A Monster Of A Lesson

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Bahamians got a first-hand lesson in the urgency of global warming in the form of a monster hurricane named Dorian.

Whether you subscribe to the belief that the good Lord was sending us a message, or that our family in the north didn’t deserve so severe a punishment, or that this was a wake-up call to the world, the inescapable fact is that we got caught in the cross-hairs of a new normal.

Hurricanes will intensify, and we had better prepare for them.

For starters, we should advocate to the world to update the Safer-Simpson scale. Prior to the storm too many Bahamians were lulled into a sense of complacency having ridden out category five hurricanes in the past.

When the wind speeds reach 157 miles per hour, it is labeled category five. More people might have heeded the warning had they heard that it was a category six or perhaps a seven with potential sustained wind speeds exceeding 200 mph.

The world was shocked that so powerful a storm formed. And then they sympathized with us when this cyclone “went to sleep” over the northern Bahamas as the Prime Minister so aptly put it.

If you must box Muhammed Ali, best to get knocked out in the first 30 seconds of the fight than have to endure round-after-round of pummeling. Abaco took the first round, softening Dorian just a little, doing Grand Bahama and Walkers Cay a big favour.

What was left in its wake, besides dead bodies, broken lives and shattered homes and businesses, was a carousel of Bahamian cynics, naysayers and haters, bashing all and sundry from the comfort of their lazy-boy chairs in Nassau.

Few of those posting on social media told of what they were doing to assist the effort to help our cousins in the north. Yet they didn’t demur in showering verbal bricks on the Prime Minister, the national government, the local government, the foreign governments and the army of volunteers that assembled to help.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the US has a staff of 10,000 highly trained disaster assistance employees and they were caught on the back foot by this hurricane, yet Minnis should have seen it coming. The head of the US International Aid Agency surveyed the carnage and compared it to a nuclear bomb going off.

But that didn’t stop the haters criticising our own emergency management agency who in their wildest dream could not have done “what-if” scenarios for a 200-mph hurricane that stalls over any part of The Bahamas.

Some of the hate emanated from those on the ground in Abaco and Grand Bahama, but they must be excused because their pain is real.

While some in Nassau literally worked around the clock to send help, others quickly pivoted to the 2022 general election telling of how they will patch hell on the FNM because residents underestimated the hurricane, brushed aside pleas to evacuate and were left homeless.

Nobody offered any suggestions of what else the government could do. Some wanted us to believe that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet were planning the junkanoo parade rather than dealing with the biggest calamity ever to hit any Bahamian government.

Smart people like former Attorney General Alfred Sears didn’t do himself any favours when he complained that his chartered airplane, admirably carrying relief supplies and hoping to evacuate some of the sufferers, was delayed on the ground in Nassau pending air traffic control clearances.

Conveniently forgotten was the fact that on the best day air traffic control over the Bahamas is a coordinated effort with controllers in Miami. Now put slow moving helicopters, circling fixed-wing aircraft, supply planes and military aircraft into the theatre, combined with a damaged airport infrastructure, a runway of only 6,000 ft, and limited apron space and it becomes clear that Mr Sears should have complimented the Civil Aviation Authority instead of putting them on blast.

The next day, a Bahamasair pilot flying the Prime Minister to the war zone, had to take evasive action to avoid hitting another aircraft.

Just as hurtful was the Haitian lady sitting in Abaco and complaining to foreign reporters after refusing the offer to evacuate with her children to Nassau because “too much crime in Nassau”.

The country’s decades long failure to deal with illegal immigration also gave us a black eye in the international press. Because we had no idea who lived in Haitian communities like the Mudd and Pigeon Pea, how was the government supposed to immediately account for all souls?

The Haitian government, true to form, didn’t step up and offer to assist their citizens. It’s our problem, and without a doubt we have a moral, humane and, dare we say, Christian duty to assist all and sundry, regardless of status.

Not a peep was heard from the litigious campaigner Fred Smith, who went to court to block government’s attempt to clean up the Mud, Pigeon Pea and other shanty towns. Eighteen months ago, a devastating fire razed many houses in the Mud. Smith worked to block legal attempts to dismantle these shanty towns. Dorian did it for him.

And what about the slum lords and the proprietors of the citrus farms on Abaco that exploited cheap Haitian labour and then left them to fend for themselves in sub-human conditions?

The Mudd and Pigeon Pea may shock our collective conscience but those who have visited Haiti know that it looks like Club Med when compared to parts of Port-au-Prince.

Perhaps when we look to rebuild better and stronger homes, businesses and lives, we will also take a moment to finally address the vexing problem of illegal immigration, if only to save Haitian lives in the future.

A social media post by American Doctor Marc Binard proved both witty and uplifting. After immediately going to help out on Abaco he told of a Bahamian grandmother evacuating on a flight to Nassau with others.

She had no time for unruly, no-manners children on the flight, using the authority of age to keep decorum and respect for others in an otherwise glum situation. With order restored on the plane she generously shared with others all that she had left in her handbag – bananas and mints.

Tony McKay, the Obeah Man, reminded us in song that Iron can’t stop Bahamians from advancing. Neither will Dorian.



September 11, 2019.


ThisIsOurs 5 months, 2 weeks ago

"who in their wildest dream could not have done “what-if” scenarios for a 200-mph hurricane that stalls over any part of The Bahamas."

But we didn't have to use our wildest imaginations. we could have role placed recent history.

I looked at Argentina and asked a friend some 3 years ago...what do we do when the days comes when we have to stand in line for bread...what will the gangs be doing?...and while the wind speeds were stronger, we have two really good precursors to spur anyone into planning mode, Dominica where the island was completely devastated and had to be evacuated and Puerto Rico where power was off for months. we didn't even plan for those two known scenarios. so while I know the planning is not easy...I don't give them a break for not even trying. it's clear they woukdnt have even been prepared for another Joaquin.


Porcupine 5 months, 2 weeks ago

"Whether you subscribe to the belief that the good Lord was sending us a message, or that our family in the north didn’t deserve so severe a punishment, or that this was a wake-up call to the world, the inescapable fact is that we got caught in the cross-hairs of a new normal." To start with Graduate, there is no new normal. That is the very point. There will be an acceleration of frequency and intensity of storms. And, perhaps we should question whether we should "look to rebuild better and stronger homes, businesses and lives,..." Wait a minute, If it looks like a nuclear bomb went off, how do you build for that? The real question graduates would ask is if we should rebuild, at all? Or, perhaps, maybe we should weaken the building codes as a builder friend and I were discussing, knowing we will have to rebuild again, sooner than we think. And, along with the worse storms is coming rising sea levels. As of the last few years, this is happening much faster than we thought not so long ago. Should we build submersible homes and businesses? As to more than a handful of people who believe that the good Lord had anything to do with any aspect of this storm, well now, I just wonder if we are getting at the root of our many, many social and personal failures in this country. True graduates would know to leave a good God out of it. Beliefs are best kept to ourselves, like sex, while true knowledge is what should be acted upon by society. That last statement will only be controversial in a handful of places in the world today, Generally those with a failed educational system. Clearly, what is at the root of most all of our ills, storms aside, is the very serious under emphasis on education. Most every problem we


Porcupine 5 months, 2 weeks ago

ignore, while thanking god for life. I am not suggesting a lack of humility, rather a progressive forward and upward approach to learning. Somehow, we have to figure out how to light a national spark in the quest for knowledge. No learned person in the world relies solely on the bible to guide them. Many of our most brilliant citizens read a book once, understand and take from it, while adding as many books as possible to their lifetime of understanding. Those who do not read at all, still feel they are experts on knowledge because they mutter platitudes from their favorite fairy tales.


Sickened 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I think it is abundantly clear that we need to keep God out of all discussions going forward. Either he is in control of everything or he is not - we can't pick and choose. When a storm is coming its best to secure your house and help your friends and neighbors do the same. You can certainly pray while you are doing this but I would advocate against taking precious time to go to church to sit in a pew and pray. It would be time wasted!


ThisIsOurs 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The disciples were right beside Jesus and in the midst of the storm. I don't think he promised to spare hardship. He did promise us grace to get through and everlasting life if we unfortunately didnt. Believe or not, its a personal choice. As to preparing for the storm, I agree.


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