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climate change

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

Climate change is a far less of a problem than our political and financial problems in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The problem is we have a political regime that overstates climatic situations and blames all the countries woes on climate change. They tell us more and more lies.   Why do they do that? The answer is simple, our present government relies on international scrounging and begging to fund our economy, so they simply overstate every crisis. Begging and borrowing from anywhere, any country, any set of ragtag they can.

As a people, we must compare the past with the present to look at the truth. We cannot accept the lies that are offered us in an attempt to cover up the government’s own inadequacies and failures; very often a failure in their declared policies, schemes and dreams, because they are just that: dreamers. We have no industry, farming destroyed, few investors and over half the working age population out of work.

It becomes a worsening situation when that very same government fails to maintain the quality and condition of the state-owned real estate stock; fails to preserve infrastructure such as roads and river defences, culverts and bridges; fails to have streets, gutters and roadside gullies continually cleaned and repaired on an on-going basis. Road repairs, ignored when they are minor, are allowed to reach the stage of crisis before they are repaired if even then, in many cases causing the complete destruction of some roads and highways — all the time blaming all on climate change, storms, floods, landslides and such.

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Their failure to properly support agriculture, farming in general, and even fishing has caused a nationwide crisis in those industries. There is also their failure to control disease in crops and animals; their neglect that has just about brought about the collapse of the whole economy. Their neglect has sent the country spiralling backwards into the beginning of the last century. And still it’s all blamed on climate change, and we all sit back and swallow that rubbish, hook, line and sinker.

Most of our secondary roads and feeder roads are worse than when the British ruled and there was no tar black top on roads. At least at the time of horse and cart or buggy, they kept the holes filled; solid wheels would never survive our current roads. That’s how far backward the ULP government has taken us. Back to the time of imperialism, when we were far better off than under the British. Now we have a Marxist regime linked to ALBA that we are gradually being integrated into. The escape from the old empire and the adoption of a new one, “ALBA”, with only one man to blame for all that.

This is not bavardage on my part it’s all based on fact. I will give you now the storm records for 1901 – 1999:

1901, July 3rd: Tropical Storm, 40mph winds, pressure 17.

1901, August 20th: A savage 52mph Tropical Storm System hits St. Vincent. A South Westerly gale, considerable damage countrywide to most sea front properties, Kingstown Jetty and sailing boats destroyed. pressure 57.

1902, May 7th: Volcano erupts triggering storms and floods from ash choked rivers. 1,565 dead.

1915, September 22nd, Saint Vincent: Tropical Storm, 52mph winds, pressure 30.

1916, July 12th, Saint Vincent: Tropical Storm, 40mph winds, pressure 48.

1916, August 13th: Tropical storm, 58mph winds, pressure 56.

1916, October 8th: Tropical Storm, 52mph winds, pressure 28.

1918, August 1st: Tropical Storm, 40mph winds, pressure 15.

1918, August 22nd: Tropical Storm, 69 mph winds, pressure 47.

1921, September 8th: Hurricane [cat h2] [not named] 104 mph winds from the S.E, pressure 64.

1928, August 8th: Tropical Storm [not named] 40 mph winds, pressure 50.

1929, October 5th: Leeward Districts deluged by flood waters, causing considerable damage to property and the loss of livestock.

1931, 6th September: Tropical Storm [not named] wind 40 mph, pressure 29.12. 1933, August: Tropical Storm [not named] winds 40 mph, pressure 33.

1933, 17th September: Tropical Storm [not named] winds 46 mph, pressure 45.

1937, October 16th: Tropical Storm, A man is struck dead by lightening at Cane Hall.

1941, 24th September: Tropical Storm [not named] winds 46 mph, pressure 60.

1942, 21st August: Tropical Storm [not named] winds 40 mph, pressure 53.

1943, 12th October: Tropical Storm [not named] winds 63 mph, pressure 45.

1944, 24th July: Tropical Storm [not named] wind 52 mph, pressure 49.

1944, 17th August: Tropical Storm [not named] wind 63 mph, pressure 10.

1948, 1st September: Tropical Storm [not named] wind 40 mph, pressure 67.

1949, 1st September: Tropical Storm [not named] winds 52 mph, pressure 38.

1951, September 2nd: Hurricane ‘Dog’ [cat h2], winds 109 mph, pressure 67.

1954 October 5th, St. Vincent: Hurricane Hazel [cat h1], hits just south with 80mph winds from the east, pressure 22.

1955, September 22nd: Hurricane Janet [cat h3], levels the area with 115mph winds, pressure 28.90 . 122 dead.

1960, July 10th: Hurricane Abby [cat h1], 75 mph winds, pressure 48.

1963, September 25th: Hurricane Edith [cat h1], 6 mph winds, pressure 65.

1967, September 8th: Tropical Storm Beulah, 52 mph winds, hits St. Vincent. 2 dead.

1969, December 25th: An earthquake felt and small tsunami and flooding recorded in Saint Vincent.

1971, October 17th: La Soufrière erupted, 2000 affected.

1974, October 2nd: Tropical Storm Gertrude, 40 mph winds.

1977, October 18th: Kingstown and most other areas flooded by torrential rain.

1979, April: La Soufrière erupted again. Followed by storms and flooding, two dead, thousands were evacuated, and again there was extensive agricultural damage.

1980, August 4th: Hurricane Allen [cat4] passes just north with 130mph winds, from the ESE. [financial cost EC$40,010,000 – EC$108,000,000 20,500 people affected]

As the depression moved towards the Caribbean, it had intensified, and became the first named storm of the season. Allen kept at generally the same westward pace between 17 and 23 mph (27 and 37 km/h) Allen had been a hurricane since 0000 UTC on August 3. Shortly after the upgrade, Allen began a period of rapid deepening, and intensified into a major hurricane at 0000 UTC August 4, while roughly 38 mi (61 km) northwest of Bridgetown, Barbados. Six hours later, Allen passed only 8 mi (13 km) south of St. Lucia at 0600 UTC. Passing just North of Saint Vincent, which experienced some high winds and lot of rain, causing some flooding, but missed the real brunt of the storm.

1981: Agricultural Production rebounded, after storm damage for three consecutive years.

1983: A tropical storm struck the Island. [Birdsey, 1986]

1983, in a book   [Talbot’ 1983] it states “Because of its steep topography and the common occurrence of unconsolidated pyroclastic rocks, slope instability leading to landslides and slumping is a major problem in St. Vincent, and unstable slopes tend to be the rule rather than the exception. It can be expected that many roads would be significantly impacted by landslides during heavy rainfall and storms”.

1986, September 8th: Tropical Storm Danielle, 58 mph winds, spreads havoc and damage to St. Vincent [152 people affected.

1986, September 21st & 22nd, Kingstown and other areas flooded by heavy rains.

1987, September 21st: Tropical Storm Emily, 52 mph winds, [cost EC$5,300,000; 1000 people affected]

1987, Flood [cost EC$5,000,000; 208 people affected]

1992, November: Kingstown and most other areas flooded by Tropical Storm. [2 dead; 200 people affected]

1994, September 10th: Tropical Storm Debby, 40 mph winds, wiped out substantial portions of crops.

1995: Tropical storms wiped out substantial portions of crops.

1999: Storm [100 affected]

Now 2001 to 2013:

2001, August 17th: Tropical Storm Chantal, 40 mph winds.

2001, October 8th: Tropical Storm Jerry, 52 mph winds.

2002, September 24th: ‍Tropical Storm unleashed a mudslide that buried a woman and three of her children in St. Vincent. [4 dead, financial cost EC$29,700,000]

2002, September 30th: Hurricane Lili hits St. Vincent and the Islands, 58mph winds. 4 dead.

2003, July 8th: Tropical Storm Claudette, 40mp winds.

2004, September 14th, Tuesday, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Hurricane Ivan swiped St. Vincent as it passed 70 miles south of the island. Wave heights from the hurricane reached 20 feet (6 m) along coastline of Saint Vincent, portions of which washed away 2 homes; the storm surge destroyed 19 homes and damaged 40 more; The Windward coast of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Southern Grenadines got the worst of Ivan. Georgetown, Colonaire, Langley Park suffered the loss of several board houses and damage to other structures near the sea. Other damage across the Country. Sea debris on the Windward Highway and the end of the airport had to be cleared. The winds left more than two-thirds of the island without power, and also damaged the island’s banana crop Damage in the country totalled US$40 million [1004 people affected].

2005, July 14th: Storm [530 people affected]

2008, September 20th: (NEMO)- Report;

On Friday, September 19, 2008, as a result of the passage of a tropical wave, St Vincent and the Grenadines was drenched by heavy rains which resulted in one (1) death, island wide flooding and landslides which left many roads blocked. The heavy rains began at about 2.00am and continued for approximately the next 24 hours. By 6 a.m. residents were reporting houses being flooded out, rivers overflowing bridges and landslides in several areas of the country. All schools were closed by midday on Friday.

In the area of Ratho Mill, a huge retaining wall collapsed unto the Windward Highway resulting in complete blockage of the area. An operation was started to clear the road. Later it was reported that there may have been the possibility that a vehicle or vehicles were buried under several hundred tons of debris. What started as a clean-up operation was converted to a full scale Search and Rescue (SAR) operation. Heavy-duty operators were unable to reach the wreckage until 7.00pm. A flattened car was removed its lone female occupant was pronounced dead by the Coroner who was at the scene.

SAR operation continued until midnight when it was called off due to more rains and the unstable nature of the damaged walls that were left standing. The operation continued at daybreak. However, there were no more vehicles under the rubbles.

A total of 25 landslides were reported and 11 blockages of roads. Ten houses were reported flooded on Friday and four remain under floodwaters. One house was destroyed by a landslide and there were reports of scores of collapsed retaining walls. By midday Saturday September 20, 2008 most roads have been cleared or partially cleared. Assessment of the damaged roads and bridges are being undertaken. Damage assessment is also continuing in other areas to ascertain the full extent of impact of the rains.

2008, October, St. Vincent: Storm sea surges from Hurricane Omar severely damaged the leeward [western coast] of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There was widespread flooding, significant erosion and many coastal properties and businesses were destroyed. The Cruise Ship Terminal building in Kingstown received significant damage and all the businesses that are housed there had to be evacuated. Another 20 shops that were housed in the Bus Terminal were destroyed from this storm surge and several others had to be evacuated.

The waters also damaged some vehicles and flooded several houses and one school. Approximately ten fishing boats were destroyed and several reportedly received significant damage.

2010 October 30th, Saint Vincent: Hurricane Tomas passes just north with 80mph winds while moving west causing quite a bit of damage with floods, landslides and sea surge. [6,100 people affected, cost US$25,000,000]

2011, April 11th: Floods, during this date heavy rainfall caused landslides and rivers to overflow in the north-eastern section of Saint Vincent island. Approximately 55 households were directly affected and up to 20,000 persons continued to be affected for some time due to the lack of potable water.

2012, August 3rd. Tropical storm Ernesto swept north of Barbados saving SVG much damage, but dropping lots of rain on the island.

2013, December 24th/25th: Tropical trough, severe flooding in all flood plains country wide. Deaths and destruction recorded.

The main difference is that there are more details available regarding effects and statistics for the latter years. Also there is much more property to damage and many more people to become injured and killed. So reporting figures and statistics will show greater numbers.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has always been a place of violent weather conditions between the peaceful calms. Our most recent climate problems started in 2001 and they are political.

Peter Binose

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].