The Hurricane Season, COVID-19 and our Human Resource
Next Monday, June 1, marks the official start of the hurricane season, a time of year filled with unpleasant memories for many of the region’s peoples. Those memories are sure to have been reawakened by the gloomy predictions from the weather experts for the upcoming season.
According to the official predictions, the hurricane season this year will be “above normal”. One can expect up to 16 named storms, we are told, and seven hurricanes with three or four being major ones. Given the intensity of storms in recent years, a product of climate change, this is far from comforting news.
The prospects are even more disconcerting this year, because the Caribbean, like the rest of the world, is still reeling from the effects of the COVID pandemic. Indeed, next Monday in St Vincent and the Grenadines would normally be Fisherman’s Day, devoted to promoting the vital fishing industry. That event has been cancelled in 2020, like so many other public activities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has a number of grave economic and social implications for SVG and its people. Significant resources have had to be diverted to cope with the crisis. Those include human resource, much overlooked, but on which a heavy strain has been placed on our overworked personnel in health, the security services, the National Emergency Management Organisation and the leadership of government to name a few. Just dealing with the challenges of securing a smooth return home for hundreds of cruise ship employees alone, must have increased the stress levels tenfold. It is to be hoped that their efforts are fully appreciated by the public.
Should we have the misfortune of being hit by any one of the storms predicted, worse by a major hurricane, these same embattled persons will have to be on the frontline again. Is it fair to ask them to carry the burden without full support from and cooperation of the rest of us?
One shudders to think of the implications for us all should we suffer a battering. Whilst SVG has been lucky in recent years in being spared the worst from a major hurricane hit, our luck cannot last forever, no matter how “blessed” we profess ourselves to be. In addition we all are well aware of how destructive hurricanes can be. Under normal conditions, it can set back our development by several years. Just imagine being struck whilst still grappling with the pandemic and its repercussions, and the worst drought for many moons to boot!
It means that we cannot afford complacency. Disaster preparedness, positioning ourselves to deal with the worst should it occur, must be the order of the day. Our relative luck in escaping the full wrath of recent hurricanes has lulled us into a sense that we will escape the worst. That can only be if we prepare to face the worst, should it so materialize.
Our COVID-19 experience has taught us what we can achieve when faced with great difficulties. We must draw on that experience and commit ourselves, each and every one of us, to play our part in the preparations, at individual, home, community and national level.