THE EDITOR: There is an old saying, “when your neighbour’s house is on fire, wet yours.”
That is exceedingly pertinent at this time of global weather catastrophes. The severe flooding in Europe and China has been reported to be unprecedented as far as records show. There are reports of getting three month's rain in three days.
What is disturbing was the lack of proper forecasting in these developed countries. Apparently, unlike approaching storms which are well communicated to the masses, these weather events developed quickly.
There are many in TT who would ask, "what does this have to do with us?" Some still believe we are protected from natural disasters simply because God has a Trini passport.
These times call for serious, responsible action from those in authority.
One simply has to look at the Diego Martin river for an understanding of whether we are prepared for heavy rainfall. The walls are overgrown, the bed of the river is littered with craters. The mouth of the river is filled with silt and debris. Small rivers like the La Ruffin River in Moruga is littered with bamboo.
Our waterways need to be cleared with some sense of urgency.
Our disaster preparedness is also in a mess. There is need for a clear emergency broadcast system. That should include radio, television, and social media. That system ought to be rehearsed for one minute every two months minimum, to allow for citizens to be familiar with the system and for increased efficiency.
There is immediate need to stock up our relief centres with food stuff, tarpaulins, mattresses, and water. Every shelter in every community should be clearly identified. Advertisements should be placed informing the public of the location of the shelter in their area.
An emergency evacuation plan for the major towns and cities needs to be devised, communicated and appropriate signage put in place.
There is need to imagine that some communities, where the village or town has a major bridge at the entrance, that bridge can be washed away. Such communities should have independent shelters and heavy moving equipment and dinghies.
Climate change is real. Preparing for it is not a PNM or UNC thing. It is an all of us thing.