Wednesday, September 6, 2017 at 10:46 AM

Hurricane Irma Eyeing Turks and Caicos Islands – My Mother Country

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

The following is an excerpt from “Hurricane Harvey: Water, Water, Everywhere, But Not a Bone Should Sink,” August, 28, 2017, which I wrote just two weeks ago as it was devastating Texas.

__________________

I grew up in the Caribbean. And, even though Harvey spared us, our islands have served as a buffer zone for many of the worst hurricanes to ever hit US shores, including Katrina.

I could not help breaking out in gallows laughter when a concerned American friend asked if [we] ever received evacuation orders. Her concern coincided with governors of states along the eastern seaboard of the United States ordering mandatory evacuations for coastal residents to shelter ‘100 miles inland.’

But the reason I could not help laughing is that issuing an evacuation order in the Caribbean to escape a hurricane is rather like issuing an evacuation order in China to escape the smog. Where the hell would they go? After all, if people on most islands were to evacuate 100 miles inland, they’d end up either in the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean.

(“Hurricane Mathew,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 8, 2016)

__________________

 

(Updated image from CNN on September 7 at 8:30 a.m.)

I was born in The Bahamas and have siblings and other family members still living there. As fate would have it, I have almost as many siblings and other family members still living in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), where my parents were born.

All the same, I’ve written so many commentaries on hurricanes, I fear writing another so close in time risks fetishizing them.

But I feel obliged to note that, at this very moment, Irma is a Category 5 hurricane barreling towards the TCI. She’s churning 185 mph of razing winds, squalls of flooding rain, and surges of erosive surf.

More to the point, she has already left unprecedented destruction in her wake.

Hurricane Irma has destroyed buildings and caused major flooding on several French island territories in the Caribbean.

The four ‘most solid’ buildings on Saint Martin, shared by France and the Netherlands, were destroyed, French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said.

Communications between Paris and Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy are down.

(BBC, September 6, 2017)

And so, with all due respect to FDR, those in her path have a little more to fear than fear itself.

But don’t get me started on the folly of the prime minister of The Bahamas ordering people in the southern Bahamas to “get out.” For this is rather like the little pig who built his house with sticks exhorting the one who built his with straw to come over for shelter.

After all, every Caribbean island in Irma’s path is bound to suffer unprecedented devastation. It could actually make the devastation Harvey left in his path look like the aftermath of typical April showers.

My family weathered pretty devastating hurricanes on the out islands of Abaco and Andros. On this basis, I submit that your best bet is to collaborate with neighbors to reinforce and stock up the biggest brick/cement building(s) in your area and just hunker down.

Meanwhile, with Irma headed for Miami, relief and rebuilding efforts throughout the Caribbean could be delayed for weeks, if not months. Because Miami is to this region what Walmart is to small towns all over America.

Miami-Dade County plans to order evacuations for Miami Beach and much of the mainland coast in advance of Hurricane Irma’s menacing track toward South Florida.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez said to expect evacuation orders late Wednesday or early Thursday, but emergency officials who report to him are already assuming hundreds of thousands of residents will be asked to leave their homes in the coming days out of fears of historic coastal flooding from Irma. …

With stores across South Florida seeing runs on water and other storm supplies starting on Monday, the announced school and government closures allow more time for preparation.

(Miami Herald, September 6, 2017)

In any event, my thoughts and prayers are with family, friends, and compatriots as our Caribbean serves as a “buffer zone” for yet another US-bound hurricane.

I was inspired by English poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) to write this tribute to what I know will be their unflinching spirit in the eye of this “apocalyptic” storm.

 

HURRICANE IRMA

I

Her storm clouds gather,

Weathermen blather,

People hide rather

Like cornered thieves.

The trees get twisted,

Branches limp wristed

Are soon delisted

Like autumn leaves.

The seas then rumble,

Winds swirl and tumble,

Sway homes so humble

Like willow trees.

The sound of thunder,

Feeds fear and wonder:

Will these floods betray bible prophecies?

II

Hurricane Irma,

O how we know ya,

Learned from Ike’s trauma

To kneel in prayer.

No matter your wrath,

For those in your path,

The financial bath

Is all we fear.

So take your best shot,

Destroy our lot,

We shall never rot

Nor shed a tear.

Still, please be prepared,

All will be repaired;

Just be sure to thank God … then have a beer

 

Related commentaries:
Harvey
Tomas, Irene, Ike

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