October 29, 2012
Sandy was a late October storm. It passed through the Caribbean and killed 65 people, two in The Bahamas. The sudden emergence of the storm and its rapid intensification should remind us all of the necessity to always be prepared for such storms and the need to exercise good judgment while they pass over. Storms do not have to have category five strength winds to kill, as this storm demonstrated. Its maximum sustained winds topped at 115 as it hit Cuba.
Sandy was not a wet storm. Its winds were not that strong when it hit The Bahamas. However, a significant storm surge accompanied the hurricane. Coastal and low-lying communities hit by the storm ended up under water. Over the years we have built right on the water across The Bahamas. It is a beautiful archipelago and those fortunate enough to live on the sea have beautiful views year-round. We have also filled in and built on wetlands. When storms come and there is a surge the water is a threat to life in these areas.
Residents on the coast and in low-lying areas should evacuate after securing their homes before storms arrive. It is suspected that Norbert Yonker, an elderly resident of Grand Bahama who was originally from Germany, drowned in the Queen's Cove community when storm surge flooded that area. Minister of Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville said prior to Yorker's death, he and personnel from Urban Renewal visited the resident and advised him to leave his home.
"Unfortunately the elderly gentleman chose not to and when tide began to rise, when the water was about three feet or so, we came back in here making a request for him to leave. Unfortunately, he did not leave," Darville said. Many people can learn from this unfortunate event. When the decision is made to stay in a flood zone before the storm hits, when the floodwaters arrive no one might be able to rescue you and your family.
Similarly, pre-hurricane season preparation is essential. The day before a hurricane is not the time to scramble for the basics such as flashlights, radios and batteries. Keeping an ample supply of these and other storm essentials should be a regular for people who live in hurricane zones. Our meteorologists always warn us about being prepared at all times. Being complacent and not listening to this simple good advice could leave you desperate at the wrong time.
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