September 04, 2017
Joaquin hit the southern Bahamian islands in 2015. Matthew hit the northwest Bahamas last year. These two major hurricanes caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage. Homeowners and businesses are still trying to get back to normal.
A major storm threatens The Bahamas again. Irma is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean heading toward the Leeward Islands. It already has maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. Forecasters project it will strengthen considerably as it heads west, developing to Category 4 strength. These types of storms have maximum sustained winds between 130 miles per hour and 156 miles per hour.
The current models have the storm affecting The Bahamas late this week. If it hits us directly at Category 4 strength there will be tremendous damage. This storm should be taken seriously by residents across the archipelago.
It's now time to make the necessary preparations. Being prepared early would prevent you from being in crowds of last-minute shoppers. Being prepared could also save your life.
Purchase non-perishable food and extra water, along with flashlights, lanterns, radios and batteries; prune trees on your property; keep your vehicles gassed up; have a plan for where you intend to stay if you live in a low-lying area; find out where nearby hurricane shelters are.
We pay our taxes and rely on the government to do its duty toward the common. In crises, however, our personal level of preparedness often determines if we make it or not; how we survive the days after devastation or not.
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. Hurricane Harvey is an ongoing challenge. It will take years before southern Texas gets back to normal.
Residents of New Providence were lucky for some time. We were hit directly by a major storm last year for the first time in nearly 90 years. We hope that experience took away the nonchalance too many had on our main island when it comes to hurricanes. It is possible for any of our islands to take a direct hit. There is no magic that protects us.
Stay in touch with weather reports from the Met Office and reliable media over the next few days. Storms change direction, speed and intensity quickly. Don't listen to and believe unsourced nonsense people post on social media or forward to you on your phone. There is much misinformation out there.
Hoping for the best while preparing for the worst is the best strategy. Irma has the potential to be a devastating storm.
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News date : 09/04/2017 Category : Nassau Guardian Stories