“Experts: Bajans not storm-ready”

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Barbadians are sorely ill-prepared for a natural disaster.

 That’s the view of some panellists at a public seminar and discussion on the subject The Future Of The Caribbean In An Age Of Monster Storms And Earthquakes. It was held at Weston Community Centre, St James, last Sunday.

The low grade by architect Robert O’Neale and insurance executive Kirk Hinds comes as disaster emergency officials attempt to galvanise citizens to prepare for the official start of the hurricane season in just under three months.

Asked by a member of the audience how the panel would grade the state of preparedness for a natural disaster, O’Neale said four out of ten, Hinds said three and a disaster emergency official suggested it could be even lower.

O’Neale said while architects followed a building code, although Parliament was yet to approve it, the expectation was for a storm or hurricane up to 150 miles per hour in speed. But the panellists noted those affecting the region were more severe, as in the case of Hurricane Irma which reached 185 miles per hour.

Seismologist Dr Joan Latchman, who heads the Seismic Research Unit at the University of the West Indies at St Augustine, Trinidad, said “natural events” were becoming more severe, the number of annual earthquakes was increasing, and those in the region were more intense.

“We are not preparing for natural disasters,” she said, while urging drills to be performed by individuals and at the household level.

Hinds, who is a technical supervisor with Guardian General Insurance, said everyone needed to be prepared for the unexpected.

The panellists said a plan should be prepared by Barbadians to protect their property, stock up on canned food supplies and obtain insurance. (HH)