The manner in which persons were left scrambling during a two-day island-wide power outage last month which also impacted water service in many areas is proof that Barbadians are not ready for the very real threat of a natural disaster, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams, contends.
Abrahams told Barbados TODAY that he is concerned that so many persons were caught off guard regarding their water needs, given that persons should have sufficient water stored for the hurricane season.
“At the end of the day the Government can only do so much. Barbadians need to change their attitudes and approaches. When the Government tells you to store water, it is not sufficient to store a pep bottle or two of water when the BWA (Barbados Water Authority) keeps telling you that you need five gallons of potable water per person, per day. This outage happened while we were in the hurricane season and if persons were taking heed to the advisory, then each household would have sufficient water stored to last a few days,” the Minister contended, noting that areas that were already suffering outages because of low water levels, were not the subject of his criticism.
He further argued, “The number of people who were caught completely off guard and unaware in the middle of the hurricane season, means that we are not taking our preparations seriously. We were told in the hurricane season to hold back on frozen foods ad stock up on can foods, but it didn’t seem like people listened. The effects of the electricity and the water going down was the equivalent of the storm taking out the power grid for two days, but the complaints from Barbadians say it all.”
Barbados was hit by serious power outages two weeks ago, spanning two days, which forced schools and some businesses to close. The Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P), a subsidiary of Canada’s Emera Inc., on November 18, blamed the outage on aged equipment and contaminated fuel. The outage prompted intervention from Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who described the incident as embarrassing and unacceptable.
Abrahams made it clear that he was in no way trying to absolve the utility companies of their responsibilities to their customers but rather he needed to impress upon Barbadians the importance of being prepared.
“If people don’t take the necessary steps to prepare for any eventuality, then most of what the Government is doing is in vain. People need to take responsibility now for themselves and their families in the event of a disaster. I know how people like to take things out of context and some might even say how I lambasted Barbadians, but that is not the case because my heart hurts for everybody who was affected by outages. It falls under my ministry and I took it personally, but I also think that we as a people need to heed the advisories that go out,” he stressed. [email protected]