BARBADIANS are not unfamiliar with storms or hurricanes barrelling toward the island and then veering north, thankfully, at the last minute.
It is a phenomenon that has placed us in a very “good” place over the years and we are eternally grateful for the many times that we have been spared from the devastation from these natural events.
Over the past week we have witnessed quite a few things and this writer believes that it has been a rude awakening for many persons, some of whom tended to be complacent in the past.
Firstly there was a wave of panic spread across the island, suggesting that Irma would shift south and hit Barbados directly. This was as a result of a malicious message sent via social media, which is one of the lessons that we have to take away from this experience. We should listen only to trusted news sources for our information, weather or otherwise. We want persons to be prepared, but not anxious at this time.
Luckily we only felt a glancing blow of the hur-ricane, losing only one roof in the process. As we watched Irma continue on her path, we noted the unbelievable damage that she was leaving in her wake.
This arguably was the rude awakening that many Barbadians needed, after seeing the level of destruction on ground zero, particularly in Barbuda, Tortola and St. Martin. The level of damage is unimaginable. In fact, Barbuda has been described as uninhabitable. In St. Martin, there has been looting and other forms of violence and now food shortages are a concern.
These are our sister islands and the reality which is sinking into everyone’s psyche after watching the images is that it could have been us.
In fact, some say this was the first “social media hurricane” that we have witnessed. Live video and images coming not only from news outlets, but from concerned homeowners kept the world abreast of everything as it happened in real time or within minutes.
What we hope, however, is that we can use these sources to bring together resources to help as many persons after seeing how adversely they were affected during the hurricane, in this very active hurricane season.
It is this writer’s hope that the wide level of coverage of these events will lead to a wide level of humanitarian help to those who have been affected. At present things are understandably chaotic, but it is evident that persons want to help.
Many Barbadians have been asking for ways that they can donate. Now is the time that we must place special effort on co-ordination efforts to get the necessary aid to persons that need them in the quickest possible time. There are immediate needs which can be met.
Certainly while many persons may be bemoaning the economic conditions pervading many households, they would agree that if we were in a similar situation that someone would be in a position to come to our assistance as soon as possible.