October 13, 2016
Living in a hurricane zone, we grow up hearing advice on storm preparation. Public service announcements repeat this information constantly. You should buy this, cut down and store that. The damage caused by Hurricane Matthew reminds us of the necessity of following the guidance set out to survive storms and their aftermath.
Residents of New Providence were lucky for some time. This year, for the first time in nearly 90 years, however, we were hit directly by a major storm. Our main island, Grand Bahama, the Berry Islands and Andros are all in states of disorder.
The stories of what Bahamians faced are chilling. Some had to climb into roofs to avoid storm waters. Some had to leave their homes as 140-mile-per-hour winds bore down to find new shelter because their roofs flew off. Some had to push tables in front of blown-out windows as debris of all types flew in.
Sadly, there was one death. Holland Evans, 75, of Lowe Sound, Andros had a heart attack battling floodwaters. A week after the storm many are without some combination of electricity, water and telecommunications. Some are homeless.
In catastrophic storms the state always has difficulty responding. Even the United States, the richest country in the world, had trouble bringing things back to normal after Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Katrina.
The effects of this storm should make it clear to residents of our archipelago that we should all take seriously preparing before storm season.
We're advised to store non-perishable food and extra water, along with flashlights, lanterns, radios and batteries; to prune trees; to fill our vehicles with fuel before the storm; to cover windows with shutters; to not stay in coastal or low-lying areas during storms.
Being prepared and making good choices before storms saves lives. It could also prevent you from being on long lines when things clear up, waiting to purchase hard-to-find basic necessities.
Our government struggled to get organized in response to Hurricane Joaquin last year. The state is trying to do better this time, but the scale and scope of the damage is much greater. The storm hit our two biggest population centers, New Providence and Grand Bahama.
We pay our taxes and rely on the government to do its duty toward the common good.
In crises, however, our personal level of preparedness can determine if we make it, or not; how we survive the days after devastation, or not.
It will take months before things get back to normal. Let's use the struggle we now face to focus our minds on what we all must do to be ready next time around. While we hope there are no more storms this year, seven weeks remain in the Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Always be prepared. It only takes one direct hit to cause devastation.
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