Amid queries about why there was no island wide shutdown today as an approaching Tropical Storm Kirk triggered a storm warning for Barbados, business operators in The City were generally pleased with how authorities handled the situation.
When a Barbados TODAY team visited the capital this morning, it was business as usual and customers were trickling in and out, even as they awaited further word from authorities about the storm.
Some businesses reported fewer staff numbers, as some workers had to stay home to tend to their children after schools were ordered closed in anticipation of the passage of Tropical Storm Kirk.
However, Managing Director of F.W. Woolworth Martin Bryan told Barbados TODAY he believed authorities were on the ball as they constantly kept the population up to date.
“I thought they informed the public very good, and business owners, in terms of if there would be a national shutdown or not . . . . So I think by and large they did a very good job,” he said.
At the same time, he said he believed the announcement that there would be no shutdown could have been made earlier than this morning.
It was just after 6 a.m. that Acting Prime Minister and Attorney General Dale Marshall announced on radio that there would be no national shutdown due to the impending Tropical Strom Kirk.
“Some of our staff that live a little further away . . . need to catch the bus early. But we were still able to open on time,” Bryan said, reiterating that he appreciated the constant update from the relevant authorities.
He added that his business continued to play its part by constantly reminding staff and customers to “pay attention to the bulletins” being issued by authorities.
“We have a small team, so we abide by what the Government says. So if we are to shut down by ‘X’ time, we would shut down a little before in order to give our staff a little time to get on the buses and get home,” the businessman explained.
Bryan said his company also had a network through which workers kept in touch with each other so they could share pertinent information.
One storeowner, who did not want to be identified, said the fact that Government and officials of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) were constantly keeping residents up to date showed that they cared.
“The way how they handled the tropical storm information and the warnings, that was excellent. It was a good job. It showed that people care,” she said.
Senior clerk at The Bionic Shop, Trevor Straker said staff members were tuned in to the various news outlets so they did not miss a beat.
“I think it was handled good. Due to the fact that it was not very close to us, I don’t think we should have a national shutdown,” he said.
Prominent businessman and owner of retail store Abed’s, Eddy Abed, said he accepted that predictions regarding the weather systems could change and even be inaccurate in some circumstances.
However, pointing out that everyone knew that the tropical storm was passing the island, Abed said it was the size that was somewhat worrisome.
“Whether it was going to hit Barbados at 10 o’clock in the morning, or 8 o’clock in the morning, or midday was unsure. But we did know there was an issue that needed to be dealt with,” he said.
“It is always a very sensitive [issue], especially when you are trying to shut down a county and restart it, because the more lead time we have I think it augers better for everybody.”
Abed, who said he was anticipating the introduction of a national shutdown policy, said it had to be carefully put together given that it could not be a one-size fits all approach.
“So one has to expect that those with critical services and providing goods, especially for a store, need the opportunity to ramp down their businesses much later. We are cognizant that employers must make personal arrangements for their employees to get them home in a safe time,” he said, while pointing out that a bus driver would also need the opportunity to get to the supermarket or hardware store so he too could make preparations.
Abed said he welcomed not only the news that a national shutdown policy was still being considered, but that a list of crucial items for hurricane preparations was being circulated among supermarket operators.
During a tour of Emerald City and Popular Discount supermarkets on Wednesday, Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland announced that stakeholders had a meeting recently and developed a list as the country inches closer to a national shutdown policy framework.