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Floods, storms, & very human responses

Dickson Igwe. Photo: VINO
Dickson Igwe

A tropical wave that dropped over 8 inches of rain on the Virgin Islands left Tortola severely damaged through flooding. The rain damage also exposed human frailty, nastiness, and courage.

Nothing exposes the true depth of human behaviour like tragedy. Trial and suffering have a purifying effect. Both show us for who we are, warts and all.

When these evils stare us in the face the way we react shows everyone what we are made of.

The same goes for families, communities, societies, and countries.

Disaster and tragedy show the moral substance of a society.

Natural destruction shows us what we are made of corporately. We want everyone to see us at our best when times are good. But what we are made of is rudely exposed when the clothes have dropped off, and we stand naked and exposed in before the mirror of misery.

We can all appear super heroes when times are good. Our stomachs are full. There is a smile of contentment on the face. There is exuberance and hubris all around. But when tragedy and disaster visit, the mask drops off, and shows the real person.

And that is what happened in the [British] Virgin Islands after the flood disaster caused by the rains of August 7 and 8, 2017.

Let’s start with the ugly. Much of the church in the VI is a super judgmental machine: one reason the church here isn’t going anywhere.

The God of most churches in the VI is the God of the Old Testament. We love to judge here. Yes the floods were a warning from GOD: UTTER BULL S—T.

The God of love and compassion is hated by many in this country for some reason. We love to see each other suffer. Nastiness towards one another is the norm.

We love the kill joy spirit.

How many judgmental Christians came out with spades, shovels, and buckets, to break their finger nails to clean up the mess on August 10, 2017? Not one I suspect. We sit in our enclaves believing we are safe from the onset of tragedy that befalls lesser mortals. I guess we forget the rain falls on the just and the unjust.

Yes Sir! Instead, the church was on social media expounding the virtues of the God of Anger and Judgment. The wrath of God was visiting the VI.

Boss! Go take a “freaking” vacation, and leave the youth alone. You are the cause of their frustration: you and your hypocritical church of “money grubbing” and “pious imbecility.” Yeah “Igwe” said it. So I expect you wait for your God of the Old Testament to strike me down! P—s Off!

Another group to be observed were those who call themselves traders.

One in particular termed the [British] Virgin Islands a Third World Country. Another insulted the mothers of shoppers who keep food on his table, for daring to inquire if a sale was on after the flood. I wonder why we keep buying stuff from some of these people who clearly have zero love for this community.

They need to return to their countries of heritage where that type of disrespect and moronic behaviour is the norm.

In any event, the great people in the Virgin Islands possessed the courage, grit, and compassion, to get out there and offer a helping hand to their community. The community came together, apart from the example of the preceding.

This Old boy did a little thing the next day with a rake and shovel. Had he been called to plunge into the mud and suffering of Road Town by any authority, he would have done so without hesitation.

On 911, a much greater disaster, New Yorkers rose to the occasion. Firefighters and volunteers ran towards the inferno to help. New Yorkers set the benchmark for what to do when disaster and tragedy strike. It took years to bring New York back to some semblance of normalcy.

And no sir: the VI is not a third world country because your shop got flooded and you lost some money. Have you forgotten Katrina? Do you remember Chernobyl?

Have you no knowledge of the blood and guts that were spent and the months and years of restoration and rebuilding after the tsunami and earthquake hit Japan in 2011.

No Sir! Disaster is an equal opportunity employer.

The best thing you do in a disaster is shut it, and get out there and help the poor and suffering.

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