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EDITORIAL: Heed Bertha’s wake-up call

rhondathompson, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Heed Bertha’s wake-up call

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The heightened sense of concern nationally over the past 24 hours as a result of the development of a tropical wave in the Atlantic that turned into Tropical Storm Bertha yesterday should serve as a reminder of our need to be constantly prepared at this time of year.
As Barbadians moved into the final week of Crop Over 2014 it was clear that very little attracted the attention of a significant portion of the population more than feting – moving from one party to the other, with the intention of enjoying one massive climax on Kadooment Day.
Unfortunately, as the National Cultural Foundation and its partners prepared the historic Kensington Oval for one of the biggest events on the national cultural calendar, Pic-O-De-Crop Finals, Mother Nature served us a very vivid reminder that she is the servant of none.
We are into the third month of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, and having not had a major brush by one of these destructive weather systems for more than 50 years, our level of complacency appears to rise annually. We dare to say that had yesterday not been a public holiday we would have seen the usually long lines, followed by empty shelves at supermarkets across the country. This is usually our clearest sign that Barbadians will not prepare for bad weather until the threat is at their doorsteps.
We hope, however, that the mental jolt the country experienced for a few hours yesterday as Bertha moved slowly along her track to our east would have been enough to rouse us from our slumber – forcing us to shake off the complacency, at least until November when the likelihood of a hurricane passing our way is almost non-existent.
At the same time, though, we fear for the ever growing segment of the population that for some reason has settled into the dangerous comfort of believing the “God is a Bajan” and just as Bertha skirted around us to the east yesterday that will be our luck in every instance in the future.
By now every household should be aware of any vulnerabilities in their home, and if they are fixable at this stage. If that assessment has been made and there is even a hint that that home could be compromised in strong winds or heavy rain, then not only should every member be aware of where they will seek alternative accommodation, but the preparation for that move should be well rehearsed.
We do agree wholeheartedly with the advice of the Department of Emergency Management that the first alternative option should be with other family members or friends. A hurricane shelter is not a place of natural comfort and it should therefore be a last resort.
Appropriate foodstuff, medicines, water, change of clothing and other critical supplies by now should be clearly identified and positioned for speedy retrieval and transport.
In short, our level of preparation will significantly influence the degree of discomfort and dislocation we experience in the inevitable event that a tropical storm or hurricane decides it’s time for a real visit.