Barbadians have definitely not forgotten the island’s recent brushes with tropical cyclones.
However, missing from today’s storm preparations was the traditional mad rush that is usually noticeable at gas stations and in supermarkets whenever a weather system is approaching the island at this time of year.
After issuing overnight warnings of possible heavy rains and thunderstorms, the Barbados Met Office this morning discontinued a tropical storm warning for the island, which was subsequently replaced with a flood warning. That too was later discontinued.
But in the midst of it all, citizens appeared to be taking all the warnings in stride with Andrea Norville, supervisor at Massy Stores Supermarket Oistins reporting that it was generally business as usual today, except for a few people popping in on this morning to purchase last-minute supplies.
“This morning we had customers, they were purchasing the batteries and can stuff and such like,” she said, while suggesting that Barbadians had learned from their past experiences and were now picking up hurricane supplies as part of their monthly shopping.
This position was borne out by one elderly shopper who told Barbados TODAY, “I am always prepared” and that her kitchen cabinet was already stocked with all the necessary food items, and her flashlights and batteries were already sitting at her bedside in case of emergency.
However, there was something of a rush over at the KJ Home Improvement Hardware Supplies, which is also located in Oistins, with store manager Phillip Farier reporting that even before they threw open their doors this morning, customers were lining up on the outside for emergency items.
In fact, he told Barbados TODAY since Thursday last week he had seen an influx of customers in search of storm supplies.
“We have seen an increase in customers, especially in things like the masking tape and tarpaulins, lots of batteries, rechargeable radios and lamps,” Farier said.
He attributed the early preparations to the last year’s unpredictable flooding which caught many locals by surprise.
“I believe they are taking it a lot more seriously after the flooding we had last year. At one point in time you would have seen Barbadians saying, ‘it going to pass us’, and I find now that after that, the flooding was a real heads up,” he added.Meanwhile, one resident who asked to be referred to as Taxi Man, told Barbados TODAY he was no longer prepared to trust the advisories issued by the local Met Office, complaining he had suffered financially in the past as a result of inaccurate weather forecasting.
“The misinformation from the Met Office from before made me went out and spend money that I didn’t have. I put gas in my car that I really could not afford. So I would like the Met Office to be more accurate before I really take this thing more serious,” he said.
Notwithstanding his position, fishermen in the Oistins Fishing Complex made certain their boats were secured in the event of an impact from the passing system.
“When we got the message yesterday I was at sea . . . [about] 85 miles from home so I had to break for home about 9 o’ clock yesterday morning. I got here about 7:30 last night running at a little more speed than what I am accustomed running at . . . I went straight to Bridgetown and I came straight here to offload,” said 56-year-old Theodore Dottin, who sent his boat to the Bridgetown Fishing Market to be docked.
“All the boats come home, even all the boat that were long lining, they started to set gear and pick up to come home. Boats come from 100 and nuff miles to come home to Barbados,” Dottin added.
While the storm warning has been discontinued, Dottin maintained that the fisherfolk would be kept at bay for the next three to four days until the system has fully moved out of the area.
“As soon as you got winds coming from the south, it is going to be bad, very bad, so you have to give it a couple days before you think of going back,” he explained.