Monday, Oct 23, 2017
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Help after the storm

Hurricane Irma began last night to affect the southern Bahamas. The Category 5 storm had maximum sustained winds of 175 miles per hour. It stayed at its peak of 185 miles per hour for 37 hours – longer than any storm remained at that wind speed or higher in recorded history.

The storm has the potential to cause catastrophic damage. And Irma is expected to directly hit the southern islands. These islands were devastated by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015. They have not fully recovered and now face a calamity much more dangerous.

The reports from the northern Leeward Islands cause concern. Irma hit there first. At least 10 people are dead. Barbuda is largely uninhabitable. From the pictures the places appear bomb-damaged. People are homeless, dazed. The British, French and Dutch have colonies in the area. They have sent their militaries to help.

We are certain Irma will hit the southern islands. It is unclear which islands will be hit after. All of The Bahamas was under a hurricane warning yesterday. Irma could leave devastation across the archipelago.

The government seems organized and thoughtful. It led an evacuation of the south yesterday. The effort took 1,200-plus people from imminent danger to New Providence, which is less likely to be directly hit – and even if it were to be, it has more response capacity.

The government alone won’t be able to respond to Irma. These are difficult times for The Bahamas. We are in a recession-stagnation period. There is high unemployment. Our debt levels rose significantly since the financial crisis of 2008. Tough decisions will have to be made regarding state expenditure.

If you escape this storm relatively unscathed, and if you have the time, talent, money or resources, give in some way to those who will be in a desperate way. Donate, volunteer, visit, take in, do what you can to be part of the solution. Do not sit on the sideline and criticize the government when you are not getting involved.

In the aftermath of Matthew, citizen groups in New Providence did a lot to clear streets and neighborhood properties. One individual had a chain saw. Another had a truck. Yet another had a wheelbarrow. Others joined with more equipment and skills. Before government could come, the roads were clear, and people were one step closer to normalcy.

We need that spirit again after this storm. Find someone to help. Find some way to help. Your effort will ease the misery of many.


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