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Hurricane disaster survival part 1

Dickson C. Igwe. Photo: VINO/File
By Dickson C. Igwe

Belief that the Virgin Islands may escape an annual devastating hurricane such as Irma, Maria, and Dorian, is simple delusion; it is dangerous complacency.

Now, as the UK convulses in a major constitutional crisis, these beautiful British Virgin Islands face their own convulsion, generated by climate change. 

Hurricane Dorian passed by two weeks ago, and new tropical systems off the coasts of West Africa continue to concern disaster planning officials. 

The worst is not over yet for the 2019 season. These Virgin Islands must prepare for a new era: the arrival of annual and increasingly devastating hurricanes driven by a climate change anomaly caused by human impunity, and environmental irresponsibility.  

The equally beautiful Bahamas are a reminder that nature is no respecter of persons. Hurricane Dorian - which passed through those islands- caused hundreds of deaths, and thousands of homes have been totally destroyed by high winds and powerful sea surge, overwhelming low lying areas of the Bahamian archipelago.  Seawater has surged on land, submerging homes, businesses, commercial property, and government facilities and utilities. 

Islanders living in the hurricane belt will have to place personal lifestyle and behavioural change, at the top of what is required to minimize the impact of hurricanes, and their exposure to horrific annual storms. 

And make no mistake, life-threatening and destructive hurricanes, as of today, are an annual event in the hurricane zone. 

That is a new reality. 

But what does lifestyle change require? Lifestyle change is a rethink of how islanders living on coastal plains and low lying islands such as Anegada and Anguilla, exist and survive, in a world where climate change and rising seas threaten the very existence of low lying islands and islets. 

The first matter that must be faced is economic: how these islands are going to face the crippling costs of rising home, commercial property, and vehicle insurance, without a major increase in personal, corporate, and national debt. Unhealthy debt and high insurance costs are a drag on economic growth as the two factors can cause a decline in consumer demand and consumer confidence.  

The annual cost of recovery from tropical storms and hurricanes can run into the billions of dollars. Yearly, storms will impact the GDP of hurricane-prone islands significantly, as commerce and tourism are impacted, and government revenues, used for disaster recovery, instead of social and economic development. 

The cost of living in the Virgin Islands is among the highest in the Caribbean. Annual devastating hurricanes will put extra percentage points on the index of inflation. Annual hurricanes will impact the consumer price index for the worse. 

To be continued 

Connect with Dickson Igwe on Twitter and Facebook. 

2 Responses to “Hurricane disaster survival part 1”

  • cnn (14/09/2019, 13:11) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Another good read
  • E. Leonard (14/09/2019, 22:10) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    The VI lies in the hurricane path with at least a 1% chance of being hit by a hurricane every hurricane season that runs officially from 01 Jun through 30 Nov every year. The less the frequency of actually experiencing a direct hit by a major hurricane (Cat 3 and above) residents get complacent; this complacency is a dangerous and unsafe position to hold. It spell disaster. Despite the erroneous belief by climate change deniers that climate change is a hoax, major hurricanes are occuring more frequently and are stronger and more catastrophic, ie, Huricane Dorian. I rode out Hurricane Dorian in St. Thomas as a Cat 1 but that was a walk in the park on a warm sunny day compared to the lashing Hurricane Dorian inflicted on the Bahamas for days as a Cat 5. Hurricanes are destructive, changing lives and circumstances, ie, monster Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

    Thus, to prevent damages or reduced damages from hurricanes ( annual menace) VI and VI residents must prepare. The preparation should include a before, during and after plan. For starters, the building code should be modified requiring structures be designed and constructed to withstand at least a Cat 3 wind load. Facilities must be designed, constructed and maintained with resiliency in mind. Some design and appearance features may need to be sacrificed for protection. Coupled with poor construction, lack of proper shuttering (doors and windows) is a contributing factor to hurricane damages. Keeping the wind out goes a long way in keeping roofs on. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best is a worthwhile cliche to embrace. Again hurricanes are destructive shredding economic, social.......etc fabrics, shattering countries and lives. Prepare, prepare and prepare. Dickson, another good read.


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