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Vincies in Big Apple concerned about earthquakes


by Nelson A. King in New York 14.DEC.07

Vincentians in New York continue to express anxiety over the recent unusual earthquakes that struck the region, stating that they were “wake-up” calls to all nationals.

“I’m not a geologist, but these are the last days,” said the Rev. Emery Alexander (Jack), a former police sergeant, in a Searchlight interview.{{more}}

“Generally, nature is taking its toll, and God is giving us a reminder,” added the Minister at Judah Worship Center in Brooklyn.

Rev. Alexander – who finally got in touch with relatives, after several attempts, in his native Questelles, Thursday, shortly after the last of two earthquakes, in successive days, struck – said nationals should take heed, unite and live closer to God.

“I feel it’s a warning,” he said. “It’s a wake-up call to the nation that God is still alive.”

Maxwell Haywood, a United Nations Social Development Officer, agreed that the earthquakes are “wake-up” calls, but said there is dire need to enhance mass media communication and develop better capacity to respond quickly to natural disasters of this nature.

“There’s need to diversify our response to natural disasters, because we seem to be only prepared to respond to hurricanes but not to other natural disasters,” he said.

He lamented what he described as poor or lack of information by some broadcast media, saying that the public was, for the most part, devoid of vital information in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes.

“The [broadcast] media was not effective [in communicating information] relative to Barbados,” said the New Grounds native, who monitored reaction to the earthquakes, on Barbadian radio stations, via the Internet.

“If found, Barbados was very impressive,” he added.

“If it was a real [stronger] earthquake, what do you think would have happened?” Haywood asked rhetorically. “That’s frightening.”

Last Thursday’s earthquake, measured 7.3 on the Richter scale, was centered close to Martinique and felt as far north as Puerto Rico and as far south as Guyana.

Many nationals reportedly went into panic mood, evacuating buildings and converging into the streets with no clear guidelines to follow.

“I think the government should have a plan, because people didn’t know what to do,” said Narissa Morris, a lawyer in Queens.

“There should be some sort of national plan,” added the former Girls’ High School student, who, too, was finally able to connect with relatives at home after several attempts. “There’s nothing in place.”

Arnold “Lydon” Charles, former president of the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S.A, Inc., said an earthquake of that magnitude has reasons to inject fear in nationals.

“It’s scary,” he said. “When you have these things one day after the other, it’s worrisome.

“Hopefully, that’s the end of it, but you can’t be sure,” he hastened to add, giving significant credit to the construction industry for buildings that withstood the seemingly longer-than-expected tremors.

Selwyn Cumberbatch, president of the Council and former police sergeant, said St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the region are “blessed” to survive Thursday’s earthquake in particular.

“Despite the magnitude of that earthquake, there was no death or serious injury [at home],” he said.

“I feel God is looking over us, and we must be thankful for that,” added the Methodist lay speaker.

“When these things happen, they strengthen my faith in the Almighty,” he continued.

Cosmus Cozier, the New York Consul General, called for closer monitoring of volcanic activities in the region, stating that the earthquakes are “serious signs.”

“Our volcanologists, seismologists and other scientists need to pay closer attention to our volcanoes,” he said.

“By any standard, seven-something [on the Richter scale] is a very serious thing,” he added. “When you have a tremor lasting for three minutes, that’s very serious.”