We are one month into the 2019 hurricane season. Early forecasts promised a less active season but recent predictions suggest average or slightly above average storm activity. The number of hurricanes in a season hardly matters; it only takes one to cause devastation.
Already this season we are being impacted by a tropical disturbance that forecasters predict will bring heavy rain.
Long gone are the days when we could delay our hurricane preparations until hurricane watches or warnings are issued by the meteorological office. Climate change has made tropical hurricanes larger, stronger and terribly more dangerous.
It is critically important therefore that residents throughout the country ensure that they are in advanced stages of hurricane preparedness. Individuals must accept responsibility to be their own first line of defense in the event of a hurricane.
This newspaper has already published a hurricane preparedness supplement encouraging residents to be prepared for this year’s hurricane season. NEMA, the Red Cross and many churches publicize hurricane preparedness guidance; advice coming from these organizations should be followed closely.
Individuals who believe that their homes are unlikely to withstand a serious hurricane should be aware of the location of the nearest NEMA-approved hurricane shelter. And all persons living in a home should be aware of plans to relocate to a shelter once the authorities so recommend.
All radio and television stations, both public and privately owned, should be required to regularly carry public service announcements throughout the hurricane season reminding residents of their obligation to take action to protect themselves, their families and their properties in the event of a hurricane.
Residents on every island in our chain ought to obtain materials required to secure their homes and businesses from wind and water damage. Tape does NOT prevent windows from breaking.
Where large trees are located near structures it is advised that they are properly pruned. This may reduce damage caused by falling limbs and trees and further reduce debris generated during a hurricane.
We are pleased to see work already underway here in New Providence pruning trees along public roads. This will decrease damage to power and telephone wires which extend along roadsides and importantly, reduce barriers that slow police and emergency vehicles’ response to calls for assistance following a storm.
In areas prone to flooding, residents should secure sandbags that can be used to barricade against water intrusion. And, it is prudent to have waterproof containers available in which important documents, family photographs and electronics can be secured if necessary.
Preventative clearing of drains should also be underway particularly in areas prone to flooding. This is especially urgent in the downtown Nassau area along the length of Bay Street and along Dowdeswell Street where it intersects with cross roads connecting to Shirley Street.
We are particularly aware of the new flooding problem which has developed in the vicinity of The Pointe where regular summer squalls have produced flooding in recent times.
Early attention must also be given to completing and or improving sea defenses as sea level rise threatens shoreline developments. The repeated intrusion of the sea onto West Bay Street in the vicinity of Sea Beach and Delaporte on New Providence demonstrates the problem.
Often injuries and sometimes fatalities occur after a storm has passed when inexperienced individuals use power tools and or generators with terrible results.
Generators must only be operated outside of occupied structures in a well-ventilated area away from windows, doors, vents or other openings. Heavy power tools should only be used by those competent in their use.
Similarly, gasoline stored for use with either generators or vehicles should only be stored in approved containers and should be stored in a dry, ventilated and secure area away from appliances and out of the reach of children.