With Hurricane Irma continuing its devastating trek, Barbadians are thanking their lucky stars that the category five system which has been wreaking havoc on the northern Caribbean since Tuesday, did not arrive on their doorstep.
The last time Barbados had a brush with a powerful hurricane was back in 1979 when David skirted the island before striking Dominica as a category 5, claiming the lives of 40 people while injuring thousands more. Before that Bridgetown was battered by Janet in 1955 which claimed the lives 38 people and left 2,000 homeless.
Though the island has generally been spared the wrath of many tropical storms since then, as recently as three weeks ago its resolve was vigorously tested by Tropical Storm Harvey, which though much weaker than Irma in intensity, still managed to rip off several roofs and electrical lines while marooning several residents in their homes on account of heavy flooding.
On that occasion Harvey brought maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour compared to Irma’s 185 mile per hour gusts.
Based on this experience, 19-year-old Brian Donawa is questioning the island’s ability to withstand the wrath of an Irma.
“Barbados is not in anyway ready for a hurricane, furthermore one of the most major hurricanes to be ever recorded,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“We aren’t ready from architecture back down, so if Irma hits us it would devastate us for years to come.” he added.
Juta Grant expressed similar sentiments while sympathizing with the victims of Hurricane Irma, particularly those in neighbouring Antigua and Barbuda.
“ I honestly think Barbados isn’t ready for anything like that, Bajans take things for granted. I don’t think we will be able to handle it if that was to happen right now,” Grant said, adding that it was simply “heart breaking” to see the damage caused to Barbuda in particular where one life has reportedly been lost and over 90 per cent of properties either damaged or destroyed.
“If you study it, tears will actually come to your eyes because you don’t know where you would go after a disaster like that,” she added.
Also commenting on the situation was popular radio deejay Indian. He said Barbadians on a whole needed to be thankful that yet another tropical weather system had bypassed the island without any real destruction to speak of.
“We would be in shambles, we would really have to rebuild, so I think that we have to give thanks and praise that we didn’t get the full effect because I don’t know what would happen,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“We can’t take these things for granted and just because it missed us, doesn’t mean something else can’t happen,” he warned, while urging his compatriots to take the necessary precautions for Jose, which developed into a hurricane earlier today, while taking a similar a course as Irma en route to the Leeward Islands.
Even though Barbados is not currently on Jose’s radar, Anita Espripe is not about to take the system for granted based on her most recent experience with a storm.
“The last one I didn’t have a dry piece of clothes and all the galvanize was [ripped] off the house,” she said.
Fearing the worst, she said that as residents of a small country all Barbadians could do was hope and pray that they continued to be spared such fury.