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Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
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By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk” July 5, 2024)

Our Caribbean has been overtaken by a mood of resignation following the destruction left by the merciless Hurricane Beryl. The category 5 storm unleashed its wrath from Venezuela to Jamaica. And Beryl is not done yet. By the time this piece is published, the Cayman Islands and parts of Mexico stand in line, meekly awaiting their turn to be brutalised.

Bad news compounded bad news as hurricane Beryl marched across the region. Just as our kith and kin in the northern Caribbean were digesting the horrific scenes emanating from Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, St Vincent, particularly the Grenadine islands of Union, Mayreau, and Canouan, Jamaica was forced to press the high alert button. By Wednesday, it had experienced Beryl’s perils.  

It’s one thing to be battered by heavy rain and sea surges, to hear the whistling sound of high winds, and to witness the occasional falling of trees. It’s quite another to lose everything in a matter of minutes, including the roof over one’s head.

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The mental health trauma from these disasters is difficult to measure but is certainly taking a devastating toll. People directly impacted are undoubtedly experiencing frayed nerves and painful hearts. But the sorrow is not only shared; the sorrow is multiplied as family, friends, and neighbours look on helplessly at the destruction.

Hope remains in short supply because Hurricane Beryl came so soon with such a ferocious impact. Experts claim Beryl was the first hurricane on record to develop so fast and powerful so early in the season.  One can only wonder what lies ahead as the historically more deadly months of August, September and October approaches.

Our people are exhausted. Vincentians are at wit’s end. It is unbelievable that we are not allowed a chance to breathe and recover. In recent times, we have endured the Dengue epidemic that snuffed out 13 precious lives and the COVID-19 plandemic, which compelled us to rearrange our thinking on so many levels. While battling covid, the eruption of the Soufriere volcano demanded an evacuation plan that would move thousands of persons from the disaster zones. All of this is on top of the grind of daily living. 

These man-made disasters are straining the capacity of our leaders, civil society organisations and people to cope. The worst part of this calamity is that much of it is not of our making. Our resources are limited, and more affluent societies are stingy with their assistance. Worse, powerful forces in the US and Europe deny that the conscious actions of rich and powerful nations create the dangers that cause hotter and hotter days, weeks and months.  

Except for two years this century, every year has been hotter than in period one. Last year was the hottest, and projections are that this year will continue the sizzling trend as mankind continues to cook themselves to extinction. Scientists have already pegged April 2024 as the hottest month on record.

The unfortunate and unforgivable sadness from all this is that those nations and peoples whose contributions to the steaming atmosphere are negligible are forced to bear the brunt of the fallout. Hurricane Beryl is one destructive consequence of the reckless policies of prominent world leaders.  

While resignation to our lot is understandable now, and hope may be in short supply, a defeatist attitude cannot be encouraged. Our leaders and other influencers must find ways to encourage our people that all is not lost. Citizens, especially the youth, need to be convinced that the future belongs to those who fight for it.

New demands must be made. Clear air and water must be secured as cherished rights. Cool air and liveable spaces must also become human rights. A new consciousness is required to meet the suffocating reality of our times. Anything less means that you have resigned to a fate of slow and painful death.

Wait, this is supposed to be carnival season. A wise man said if our cultural planners had experienced Hurricane Beryl, they would never have switched to mas in June/July. But here we are with little chance of going back.

I saw a tidy idea posted by Fitz Huggins, our resident diplomat in Toronto. He suggested that instead of shutting down the carnival altogether, the remaining official activities should be turned into a big Beryl relief benefit. His idea was to hold a concert with top artists and charge an affordable fee of $25. The young people would get to enjoy themselves while much-needed money could be raised for the massive rehabilitation effort ahead of us.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former senator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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].

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4 Comments

  1. Anointed one says:

    You people don’t learn. You heap coals of fire on your head. There is a simple solution to all those problems.

    Reply

  2. Fitz idea is fantastic. It is something I have been suggesting for some time now. However, the timing is not right. Beryl has damaged the hopes, wishes and dreams of too many people. It hurts deeply and will take some time for many people to recover.

    Reply

  3. I hate comments like the one Anointed one made. Says there is a solution, offers none. That one is just a waste of space. Irrelevant individual

    Reply

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