The topic may well be regarded as appropriate for an ‘end-of-times’ sermon, in light of the severe hurricanes that recently visited the Caribbean and the US, claiming lives. How many here are sufficiently gifted and trained to deliver such a subject, I wondered. Alas, to be on your guard, preparing, is merely a layman’s heartfelt desire to encourage the earthly powers and their citizens to pursue every effort at strengthening their homes, and securing additional water storage to secure themselves against future Atlantic/Caribbean Hurricanes.
The Atlantic hurricane season is far from over according to weather experts and scientists. The ferocity of Hurricanes Irma and Maria (two category 5 monster hurricanes of 2017) in the Caribbean and the US, and the destruction caused by them, may lead some people to assume that these two had consumed all the warm water and wind energy over the Caribbean Sea this year. But don’t be fooled! The official hurricane season has yet to come to an official ending. Remember the brat that spoiled Jounen Kwéyòl a few years ago? Remember the Christmas trough?
Whether or not Saint Lucia suffers any of the destruction we saw in other Caribbean islands and in Florida and Texas, it’s worth remembering that there will be another hurricane season next year, and the year after, and so on. Indeed, the region’s geography in relation to Africa seems to condemn it to these annual weather events that are predicted to become more and more severe with global warming. And since we cannot change our geography or stem the tide of global warming, we are left to contemplate and to act upon the defensive measures we must take to protect ourselves from hurricanes. We can act now! It bears repeating that hurricanes are likely to visit more frequently with increasing wind speeds and will inevitably wreak more destruction.
There is one more piece of mathematical/scientific reality with which one needs to reckon. The law of averages will soon catch up with those like Saint Lucia that have recently been spared the ravages of these monster hurricanes. (Pray that it’s not too early for such a statement.) God is good and there is evidence that He answers prayers. Still, God would not wish the Caribbean region to think that He had chosen sweet Sainte Lucie as his favourite rock. Sooner or later this island is likely to be hit by a severe storm.
This is not a wish, heaven forbid. It is a visit we are powerless to avoid. The responsibility therefore devolves on the government and other elected and selected officials to agree on a plan to ensure more secure housing plus more private water storage facilities on-island. Building more solid housing units with steel and concrete, including roofs/ceilings, makes sense. A national competition to design affordable housing, including the use of empty 40 ft. containers or parts thereof that would withstand hurricanes, should be a national priority. But that is just the beginning. The entire country needs to be mobilized – this will be the subject of a separate article.
No one can deny the urgent need for strong, simple, affordable housing, especially for lower income groups. There is need for a more rigorous building code. The government and the banks should not leave to the whims of crooked builders and dishonest quantity surveyors the most expensive project many citizens will undertake in their lifetime – the building of a home. Some people are adept at making short cuts, placing the home owner in jeopardy. This is neither fair nor just. The situation is driven by increasing greed. Some quantity surveyors and builders seem anxious to join political parties, seeking government work and protection.
In the new dispensation, government and politicians cannot be depended upon to do everything. It is therefore suggested that at least five persons be named to judge an affordable (low cost) housing design for the island that can withstand the strongest hurricanes. It is also suggested that the following three persons form the core of judges for this competition, with the government and the opposition each adding one more person: John Peters, Calvin George and Desmond Fostin – all engineers and builders.
The certified designs should be approved by parliament.The government should make available at least two separate sites in the
north and south of the island to build and showcase these new ‘hurricane proof’ houses. Prospective buyers, lenders and investors should be encouraged to view and comment on these houses. It goes without saying that all new buildings ought to be as earthquake proof as possible, especially multi-storied structures.