This week’s telling pictures of thousands being taken away from their homes submerged under water, cars floating like boats on normal streets and rescue personnel wading through waist-high water in search of missing people in Paris and across Europe, show the value of being ready this Hurricane Season.
It’s day two of the June 1 to November 30 wet season, and if we were to inquire how many Barbadian households have stocked up non-perishable foods, water, batteries and such, and checked their properties for needed repairs, we suspect only a few families, or worse, none at all, have started their preparations.
That complacency is a big concern for acting deputy director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Robert Harewood as he spoke to reporters at a news conference yesterday.
“We want to encourage persons to recognize that it could only be one event impacting upon us and it could happen maybe as early as next week, a week after, we don’t know. We want persons to recognize their vulnerabilities and recognize that preparedness really begins at the individual level.”
Forecasters are predicting that this year’s season will be an average one. The noted Colorado State University estimates 13 systems, including six with the potential of becoming hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
Barbados has been fortunate during the past few hurricane seasons to escape major hurricane threats. So it’s natural to relax over the next six months and assume our island won’t see any major storms. But we can’t afford to count on that good luck holding or suggest that God is a Bajan.
It doesn’t take a direct hit from a storm to cause trouble in vulnerable islands like Barbados.
Most times, it just takes one day of heavy rain and we are left to count our losses.
Now is not the time to be lulled into a sense of false security.
Every time a storm threatens to bear down on us, people flock to stores and there are long lines at gas stations- matters which should have been dealt with at the start of the season.
Barbadians tend to get all worked up at the news of an approaching storm, and worse, if the system fizzles or passes by we unfairly attack our meteorological officials.
It would be foolhardy to expect that technology can guarantee 100 per cent accuracy. The fact is, as we all know and have experienced, a storm, by its very nature, is capable of plotting its own course.
So it’s wise to prepare for the worst. And the sooner we do this, the better.
Beyond the common preparations, the DEM has pleaded with Barbadians to stop their indiscriminate dumping to ensure drains remain clear to avoid the unnecessary deluge that results from a steady downpour
The agency is also encouraging every household to implement its own disaster plan.
Necessities include a ready disaster kit with at least one week’s supply of non-perishable food, plenty water; a battery powered radio; lanterns or flashlights; an extra supply of medicine, baby food and clothes, etc.
Now is also a good time to clean up around your home and neighbourhood and have enough material on hand in case you need to board up windows and doors.
Each family should carefully assess whether their house is safe enough to remain in during a storm –– where they will go if forced to leave home and what will happen to pets.
Once you have readied your household, lend a helping hand to other members of your community especially the elderly, to ensure they are prepared.
The old adage still speaks loudly – Better safe, than sorry –– Bajans would do well to take heed.