One of the last people to leave work at the STAR on Christmas Eve, I headed home to Praslin around 2 pm in a state of urgency. Mind you it was not because I had to do any last minute Christmas shopping. Earlier in the morning, a colleague came into our Editorial Department and confirmed to us that due to showers, bridges at Thomazo and Grand Riviere were impassible and that the Bexon area was already flooded. This has become much of a recurring theme, ever since the island’s latest natural disaster, the foreseen hurricane Tomas in 2010.
The word being circulated was that all buses heading to the south of the island were still at the respective bus stands because it was impossible to get to their destinations. A little apprehensive and uncertain if the level of waters had subsided or if it was safe to commute, I proceeded on venturing home. On my arrival in Castries it was the expected scene. Persons were scurrying around in the holiday hustle and bustle but I was taking no part in that. My mom was supposed to do our shopping in Vieux Fort and in my current ‘mini crisis’ situation I had nothing on my mind but to head straight home.
A feeling of relief came over me when I got to the bus stand and realized that buses were embarking to Vieux Fort and at a very considerable rate. “ Thank you Jesus” I thought to myself, as it was obvious the road was again suitable for vehicular traffic. I did not hang around to scrutinize or pick and choose which bus I wanted to travel on, as seems to be the norm these days, I just got on the next boarding vessel and was on my way.
When I got to my home at about 3 pm, it was evident that it had rained in my community earlier during the day. Dark clouds still loomed in the afternoon sky, and there was this sinking premonition that it would rain again later on. Nevertheless I had pretty much nothing to do for the rest of the day but to wait for midnight so I could leave for my sports club’s annual Christmas Eve J’ouvert party. So I ate the lunch that my grandma prepared and after a while went to my room
Relaxing on my bed and engrossed in my Blackberry, I was rudely disturbed by a monstrous boom of thunder that stole my attention abruptly. I was so startled that my phone nearly fell out of my hand. My grandma, who was at my grand-aunt’s
house nearby screamed at the top of her lungs, “
Kerwin! Mété TV-ah off!”. This thunder then cued heavy rainfall that clattered on my rooftop like a maniac playing steel pan and was seemingly never ending.
Using various forms of social media, I interacted with friends and inquired what was going on in their communities. They too were suffering the same fate with the weather. With not even the slightest idea of what was to come, at 4.56pm I posted in a teasing way via Twitter, “ 2 all xmas enthusiasts, ur gifts hav bin postponed til next year. Santa does not fly in rainy weather. 2 bad 4 u so much 4 being nice dis year”. I posted this just because it was pouring outside, but I thought that the downpour would end eventually. And who was I to make that silly notion? Feeling optimistic about my assumption, I decided to squeeze in some sleep, as I envisioned that I would be exercising some nocturnal practices later on.
Well to my surprise (which I must say was very unpleasant) when I woke up at 6.45pm, the torrential rainfall had just barely subsided and had not ceased. Going into the living room, I joined my grandma and my mom who had earlier arrived from doing our Christmas shopping.
My mom told us that while she was at the overcrowded supermarket on New Dock Road in Vieux Fort, the power was cut off leaving many frantic. Luckily the staff turned to the backup generators which restored the shoppers’ sanity. And as if she had cursed us, a few moments later our house and community was in complete darkness. I guess it’s the ‘power of the tongue’ as they say.
I had no problem getting around the house in search of a candle to aid our cause, as lightning was flashing at an unbelievable frequency. It was like an invasion of paparazzi on a megastar at a court trial, only that it was happening in the stratosphere. Even granny concluded that she had never experienced lightning of such magnitude her entire life.
I was sitting on the western side of the house, and I realized that I was beginning to get wet. The louvre
window above my head was missing a couple of blades so I had to push the settee and furniture away and unplug all appliances which were docked in a switch in that area.
Water was creeping through the other windows in the house so we to tried to stifle the flow with old towels and clothes. Feeling a little more ‘comfortable’, my parents proceeded to getting some sleep. By now it was too obvious that I would be going nowhere that evening, so I went to my room. I asked the Lord for protection and preservation of my family from whatever it was that we were experiencing, and I went to bed.
Myself, my family, in fact no one in my area at least, would’ve ever envisioned what we as a country woke up to on Christmas Day.
Our community had survived ‘the storm’ relatively unscathed with only minor damage to roads and agricultural lands. But on an islandwide scale, it was devastating in many towns and villages. The Bexon/Marc area, which has been flood prone ever since hurricane Tomas, took another heavy battering. It is safe to say that it was a Tomas déjà vu,
as the scenes that were evident were very much reminiscent of the storm’s destruction.
At the realization of the gravity of the situation, we at home turned on our battery-powered radio for notable updates, on what had become another unforeseen natural disaster.
Across the island, bridges collapsed or were affected and carriageways were inaccessible due to major land slippage. The residents of Vieux Fort, Anse La Raye, Canaries and Laborie were affected significantly as the torrential rainfall caused rivers to flood their communities and homes. As a result they lost their furniture and appliances and some of them even their livelihoods. Speculation of lost of life was gradually becoming factual, as the news hit home, with one of the casualties of the disaster coming from the Mon Repos community.
At one point during the night before I went to bed, I remember thinking to myself, “maybe the reason for all this rain is because the Lord wants us to forget the partying and the happiness and focus on him and celebrate him this Christmas”.
But never in my wildest dreams would I or anybody picture this to be the image of our Christmas for this year. But then again, who are we to try to comprehend the father.