In elementary school, we learned a pithy little saying which we would recite every year to remind us what season it was. It went like this, “June too soon. July stand by. August a must. September remember. October all over.” This little rhyme helped children to know the months hurricanes are expected to strike. Though August is a popular travel month and summer is at its zenith, it is also one of the worst times for weather conditions in the Caribbean. Storms, squalls, frequent rains and gale-force winds are common occurrences. Usually by the time we hear of an approaching hurricane, the first letter in the name indicates how many other hurricanes, although not a threat, may have already passed for the season. At this time of the year, I get a little nervous for my family members, friends and fellow Barbadians (Bajans).
This week my island paradise – Barbados, was on lock down for more than 24 hours, halting air traffic in and out of the island. Dorian was still considered in the tropical storm category at that time as it came barreling up the Atlantic coast, making a beeline to the 166 square miles of coral and limestone rock I call home. As usual, Bajans took all necessary precautions to secure themselves, homes and businesses. Supermarkets and gas stations were overwhelmed with people in long lines as locals stocked up on non-perishable items to sustain them in the aftermath. Shelters were manned, prepared and ready to receive persons who felt unsafe in their homes or in distress. The Government Information Service and Meteorological Department gave timely updates on the progress of the tropical storm and expected times when it would make landfall. Prime Minister Mia Mottley in a press conference urged Bajans to work together and to prepare for the onslaught. A curfew was initiated and the islanders hunkered down fearing the worse. The last and deadliest hurricane to strike Barbados was back in 1955 – Hurricane Janet. Even though it happened more than 64 years ago, folks who experienced it still talk of the strong winds, flattened houses and overall devastation left in its wake.
How has Dorian impacted me you might ask? Well, all thanks be to God, my family members are safe. My niece who is an EHS manager with Sandals Resort worked through the night to ensure the safety of guests and staff. Obviously, beach front properties face the first strong winds to blow in from the sea and every precaution is taken to ensure the safety and evacuation of guests as necessary. Also, far away from home, four family members, a nurse and a teacher, respectively, along with their sons are visiting the USA on vacation could not return to Barbados due to the lock-down. Their flight was cancelled, and they are now scheduled to return in September. This delay puts their jobs in jeopardy, but I am hopeful their bosses will be understanding and accommodating. I am glad to say, both these situations are mild inconveniences but are not life threatening and for that I am grateful.
Though the people of Barbados are blest and were fortunate to escape the wrath of tropical storm Dorian, it has since gained strength, momentum and become a full-fledged hurricane at the doorstep of other countries and populations. It is currently baring down on those in the Bahamas and threatening those along the Florida coastline. I am praying for the safety of everyone. Especially for those affected residents directly in its path, first responders and emergency workers. In the meantime, for those traveling here are some tips to remember if caught in this vortex:
Community Peeps, I’ve never experienced a hurricane, nor do I want to. Having said that, I acknowledge it must be a traumatic experience for residents furthermore any visiting tourist who have had the misfortune to encounter. If you have been through such an ordeal at home or abroad, please tell us of it here. Write it and additional tips in the comment box below. Share how you dealt with the situation and what you did to be safe.
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