Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite says he is generally satisfied that Barbados withstood the test of Tropical Storm Matthew.
The system developed out of a tropical disturbance on Wednesday forcing the authorities to effect a national shutdown as the island was pounded with heavy rains and winds. As a result the island suffered some infrastructural damage.
However, speaking on national television this morning after the official all-clear was issued at 5:45 AM Thursday, Brathwaite, who is also the country’s Attorney General, said he was happy that there was no evidence of any loss of life or limb.
“I think I am satisfied that everything worked as we had anticipated. When I left the EOC [Emergency Operations Centre] this morning about one o’clock. It was just to ensure that on the roads for example, we got some teams out to clear a few roads, so that when we gave the all-clear this morning we would be satisfied that people can traverse as safely as possible,” he said.
However, Brathwaite did acknowledge that it was not all smooth sailing during the passage of the storm.
“I’m fairly satisfied with what I have seen in the last two days . . .[but] maybe we had a bit too much traffic on the roads. We did have reports of one or two businesses opening. As you may recall, yesterday morning we did not have a lot of rain and people probably took that as an opportunity to go about their regular business even though we said to them that we do have a national shutdown, we will have rain, we will have wind etc . . . and I think this is the thing that we wanted to prevent. We wanted as much as possible to ensure that people’s lives are saved,” he explained.
The Government spokesman also said he concerned about some of the behaviour exhibited on social media, but admitted, “We can’t control social media. It is good and it is bad.We see reports of some concern but we just can’t respond to everything and we can only urge Barbadians that when we have occasions like this, to listen to the official reports , focus on the official reports.
“You can’t just focus on what your neighbour sends you and believe that that is accurate,” he stressed.
Pressed on the issue of businesses opening during the storm, Brathwaite said it was a question of “safety and reasonableness”.
“That is why we give certain timelines,” he said, while acknowledging that there was a need for the emergency officials to improve their communication with the public.
‘ . . . If anything, we don’t want to have the kind of panic that I saw in terms of gas stations being filled because it is interpreted that all businesses have to close at six o’clock. That is one of the areas that I think that we have to look at in terms of our messaging to ensure that the correct messaging goes out into the community. We want to get the message right,” Brathwaite said.
With the all clear now issued, officials say schools, with the exception of the University of the West Indies, will remain closed today.
However, the Grantley Adams International Airport is due to re-open this morning, as well as commercial businesses and the island’s public services, including the law courts and the state-run transportation system.