As Hurricane Irma takes aim at Florida, several Trinidadians living in the sunshine state have not only decided to ignore evacuation orders but have organised hurricane parties at their homes to weather the storm.
That was the observation of Princes Town MP Barry Shiva Padarath, who has instead advised his countrymen to obey the instructions of Florida Governor Rick Scott and seek safety at numerous shelters.
On the “hurricane parties”, Padarath observed this may be the “God is a Trini” mentality which seemed to be prevalent among Trinidadians resident in Florida.
“I do believe that the culture of God is a Trini has taken root in some parts of the diaspora here in Florida. Trinidadians resident here are advertising hurricane parties and limes on social media. This hurricane is not something to have fun with it as it could cost you your life and that of your family,” Padarath said in a message on Facebook.
“Governor Scott and the authorities here must be commended for a very hands on approach and an excellent communications strategy. Their mantra to those in south Florida has been ‘do not wait an hour do not wait till tonight, get out now’,” he stated.
Padarath, who is on vacation in Broward County, however noted most Trinidadians evacuated, and at 4 pm a curfew was put into effect.
Irma slammed into Cuba overnight as a dangerous Category 5 storm before being downgraded to a Category 3 yesterday morning. The storm is expected to make landfall somewhere between Fort Myers and Tampa. Padarath said many Trinidadian families had “expressed deep concern and uncertainty of what their lives will be like after the hurricane seeing that they have had to leave everything behind.”
“The situation here is very grim. Broward country where the majority of Trinidadians reside will be severely affected and has been evacuated,” Padarath stated. “I am amazed though at the level of preparation and the cooperation of the people here in Florida with instructions from the authorities.”
“I myself have family in Florida and was meant to be here for a few days only. However flights out of Florida is now virtually impossible. Florida will take a direct hit, it is a first time hurricane experience for me but certainly it has been an eye opening experience,” he said.
Padarath observed TT did not possess the level of preparedness which was being seen in Florida and issued a call on Government to “review the building codes for Trinidad and Tobago as well as a national drill for the essential services.”
Trinidadian Rollins Basanta, who lives in a condo at Palm Beach, said he and his wife, together with about 15 other persons, had decided to remain at home.
Basanta said they had stocked up in canned food, water, candles and gas for their generators.
“We are prepared, we have boarded up and are just preparing to ride out this storm,” he said.
In the Bahamas, Bennett Johnson, who has Trini roots, told Sunday Newsday Nassau suffered less damage compared to other parts of the island. Unofficial reports state, he added, that 22 persons are feared dead.
“I cannot say how accurate that count is but in other parts of the island, houses are destroyed and some under floodwaters. It is not as serious here but here the winds are strong and debris are flying around,” Johnson said.