The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – On Weather Emergency Management

At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice, he is the worst –Aristotle.

Former Attorney General disagrees that laws are needed to force businesses to comply with shutdown order issued by the DEM.

Former Attorney General disagrees with current AG Brathwaite that laws are needed to force businesses to comply with shutdown order issued by the DEM.

Unlike many in Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago, who ascribe their frequent near misses from hurricanes to divine intervention or seek to ascribe a nationality to God that tallies with theirs, my unlearned view inclines rather to the thesis that these countries lie outside the presumed “hurricane belt” and that what might frequently appear to be contrived diversions from hypothetical paths are in fact consistent with the traditional directions of these phenomena.

Of course, this does not create a total immunity, given the frequency and magnitude of these events, although it may ensure that any “hit” is akin to a deflection rather than directly off the meat of the bat, if you will excuse the cricketing analogy. Thus, it is my understanding that the hurricane that is still spoken about with awe locally, the one named Janet in 1955, for all the death, damage and dislocation it caused, was not a direct hit but rather had passed much to the south of the island.

In this context therefore, we should never leave ourselves unprepared for such another such eventuality and, fortunately, it has become almost cultural for locals to store an adequate supply of water and to purchase, albeit at the eleventh hour, enough non-perishable foodstuff to last during any enforced period of restriction to their homes as a result of the passage of the storm.

Further, the state, as part of its constitutional responsibility has established an advisory body of high-powered officials to coordinate the public management of such emergencies. We are thus well organized as a nation to confront any likely danger.

However, in light of the actuality that forecasting the weather is scarcely a precise endeavour, there are likely to be circumstances when, in the interests of public safety, the authorities will be prone to over-caution and to prepare for the worst-case scenario through preventive measures that entail restriction of the freedoms of citizens to act as they might please. Invariably, when the worst case does not eventuate, instead of gratitude, there is no shortage of what those football fans in the US would call “Monday morning quarterbacking”, (and what we might call in these parts “batting from the pavilion) –whereby, with the aid of hindsight, some individuals seek to pillory, to various degrees, both the meteorological forecasts and the official state action that had been taken in good faith with a view to ensuring the public safety.

The extreme state action taken in this context is an island-wide or national shutdown, purportedly regulated by a policy document, impressively titled “Policy Framework and Standard Operating Procedures for the Systematic National Shutdown & Reactivation of Barbados.” It declares itself as formulated to provide for an orderly shutdown and reactivation of the country following a severe weather, tropical storm or hurricane WARNING (sic) issued by the Barbados Meteorological Service after collaboration with the Department of Emergency Management.

In spite of its significance however, the document trusts rather to ethical suasion for the enforcement of its provisions rather than to the rule of law, with the result that some of its provisions may easily be ignored without legal sanction. Indeed, it is by now notorious that some businesses elected to open their establishments on Wednesday last, much to the chagrin of those state officials who bear ultimate formal responsibility for the operation of the national shutdown.

In their defence, the document, perhaps owing to its essentially collaborative nature is not the most happily drafted piece of regulation one will ever encounter. For example, after expressly stipulating that “…On the issue of the National Shutdown Instruction, private sector entities/companies shall close their operation…” taking certain stated matters into account, it then proceeds to catalogue a number of private sector entities “which provide essential emergency services to the general public in times of emergencies” without any further positive or negative provision in that regard.

If it were to be subject to the traditional rules of interpretation, one would be tempted here to apply the principle of construction inclusio unius est exclusio alterius” –the inclusion of one in a list implies the exclusion of another that might have been included therein, but is not- and to argue accordingly that those entities not mentioned should not open at all during the shutdown, presumably since they do not supply essential emergency services, while those that are listed and do supply such services are entitled to remain open.

A Barbados Advocate editorial on Friday sought to treat some of the thornier employment relation issues that are likely to arise for those workers who are called out to the workplace during a national shutdown. It is further understood that some employers arranged transportation for some of these workers, thereby creating the legal scenario that the employee is to be taken as having begun work from the time he or she boarded the designated vehicle and was therefore immediately owed a duty of care in respect of their health and safety by the employer.

In another section of the press today (Saturday) the general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Ms Toni Moore, accused some businesses of focusing solely on their bottom lime, which, with all respect is, within the limits of the law, the raison d’être of free enterprise.

Thing is, there is no current applicable law in force against what occurred on Wednesday, and while there may be some merit in an assertion that there is no law to govern commonsense and ethical behaviour, law is nevertheless the basis on which our society is governed and may be the only language that some will understand.

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92 Comments on “The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – On Weather Emergency Management”

  1. Anonymouse - TheGazer October 2, 2016 at 7:12 PM #

    Going to turn in.
    One thing is abundantly clear
    There is no shortage of brain power on that 166 square miles
    Which begs the question — How did we allow our island to go backwards????
    Listen to others, even the dull and “the ac” 🙂
    Good night to all,


  2. David October 2, 2016 at 7:23 PM #

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  3. Well Well & Consequences October 2, 2016 at 7:32 PM #

    “There is no shortage of brain power on that 166 square miles
    Which begs the question — How did we allow our island to go backwards????
    Listen to others, even the dull and “the ac””

    The leaders lack the brain power…most of the people have no such problem.


  4. Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right - INRI October 2, 2016 at 7:37 PM #

    @ The Gazer Goodnight

    @ Simple Simon

    It is possible for DEM to outfit the island with “mobile” generators at fixed points and provide a matrix that does not require the normal electrical grid.

    Such a project would be underwritten by ITU and a forward thinking Information Society of Barbados were they not interested in (a) flying bout to conferences and (b) sucking the pooches of LIME and FLOw or whichever name dem using nowadays

    You do see that your “patterns of posting” predisposed you to be someone who worked on a shift?

    Now the profession is out heheheheheh.

    You are a bit of a survivalist yourself judging from that blanket in the fridge act no doubt you would have seen those times when cloaccus bags were used around that wooden contraption to make ice-cream or to protect the christmas ham while suspended from the rafter in the roof.


  5. Bush Tea October 2, 2016 at 8:23 PM #

    Just when Bushie thought that this subject could not possibly get more idiotic…. Simple Simom gets off the damn ZR to join the broom-stick jockey WW&C….

    “ONE: If a storm had devastated the island,….” Storm shiite!!! it was a tropical depression – a big name for some damn rain….

    “TWO: In addition a devastating storm would also devastate the finances of many… ” so would a tsunami ..and Stinkliar …BUT IT WAS JUST SOME DAMN RAIN.

    “THREE: i think that we have forgotten that in the Bible it says that a hungry man is permitted to pluck an ear of corn on the Sabbath day” ……. It says no such thing. The Bible say that by the sweat of a man’s brow he should eat bread…. You come an pluck one of Bushie’s corns and see what happens to your ZR ass…

    “FOUR: When (not if) a devastating storm hits we will take what we need to satisfy our hunger…” ……..FROM WHERE? You can barely eat in good times – in an emergency you will line up in long desperate lines… for US/UN aid…. like all other lazy brass bowls.

    Look woman, poor people who catch ZRs and don’t even own a standby generator should NOT seek to advise others about what is financially expedient….

    Hungry people have no damn right to eat….that ‘right’ exists only in your imagination – along with the nonsense about shutting down a whole country because a heavy shower is forecasted.


  6. Hants October 2, 2016 at 8:45 PM #

    Bushie’s heavy


  7. Well Well & Consequences October 2, 2016 at 8:51 PM #

    The next tiime a category 5 “heavy shower” floats around Barbados I hope we dont see the Bushman on a ladder trying to board up his windows. ..

    …….and should he fall off that ladder during that “heavy shower” and break both legs and arms…., take him straight to the hospital…no anesthesia, what would he need anesthesia for from just a “heavy shower”…lol


  8. Bush Tea October 2, 2016 at 8:52 PM #

    @ Hants
    Why don’t you stick with Hamilton nuh…?
    This is Barbados boss… some roads get like that from a heavy dew….

    Our road builders do not do drains…..


  9. Bush Tea October 2, 2016 at 8:57 PM #

    The next time a category 5 “heavy shower” floats around Barbados….
    Go back to bed WW&C,….it was NOT a Cat ANYTHING. It was a tropical depression…… some damn rain accompanied with a low pressure disturbance…

    …and Bushie don’t have to climb no damn ladder – just press a few buttons… 🙂


  10. Hants October 2, 2016 at 9:28 PM #

    @ Bushie,


  11. Simple Simon October 2, 2016 at 10:32 PM #

    @Bush Tea October 2, 2016 at 8:23 PM “Simple Simom gets off the damn ZR…”

    i wonder if you are jealous of the ZR men because they are young and handsome and VIRILE.


  12. Simple Simon October 2, 2016 at 10:46 PM #

    The worse Atlantic hurricane EVER recorded hit Barbados in mid October 1780 and killed an estimated 20,000 out of a population of about 80,000.

    Barbados IS in the hurricane belt.

    If we fool ourselves…and let successful businessmen make meterological decisions…we will at sometime live with the consequences.

    NONE of these businessmen are qualified enough or experienced enough, or even old enough (all of them were unborn or very small children when Janet hit in September 1953, so they have ZERO experience of how a hurricane actually behaves) to make meterological decisions.


    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hants October 2, 2016 at 11:07 PM #

    Bushie lives in a big hurricane resistant wall house and drives a full size luxury SUV.

    He does not have to go outside in a storm or hurricane because he can pay people to run errands for him.

    right Bushie ?


  14. Hal Austin October 3, 2016 at 1:24 PM #

    Why does the Nation Online censor ideas it does not agree with. Does it believe in a fee market of ideas? How does it expect to widen the public debate? Who makes these decisions?


  15. David October 3, 2016 at 2:25 PM #

    The very reason you complain is why the social media space has become active.


  16. Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right - INRI October 3, 2016 at 3:00 PM #


    @ Hal Austin

    I find it soooo funny what you just said about the Nation “censoring comments” (you could equally say it about Barbados Today)

    There are a few things that you need to be aware of Mr Austin.

    They have a cookie which they send to your machine and if your browser does not allow them to place that on your device, FOR FUTURE TRACKING, you will not be allowed to post!!!

    Most of them do have these features and statistics counters e.g. google analytics, doubleclick, heat sensors to see where your mouse moved to on the screen, for 3rd party integration

    Just think of it like they need to know who you are and what do you do before, during and after you visit them.

    Then, IN BOTH cases, remember who their allegiances are to – the barbados Labour party so, depending on if the cookie says you are a DLP big wig, they will let you post because the DLP is the party in Power.

    But, if you are a notorious BLP supporter post the first assignment of your loyalties, read global acceptance and permission for you to post, you thereafter can post to your hearts content.

    De ole man is not allowed to post pun any of the sites

    Why is the site offline for all this long time?

    maybe they too are working on scorecards and polidady and other monitoring apis to track and monitor a body pun dem site


  17. Hal Austin October 3, 2016 at 3:03 PM #

    It is one of the reasons why our debate is like a sixth form debating society. It is the unintended consequence of learning by rote.
    You read the book, remember what the author says and repeat it like a parrot. Just look at what passes as a debate about the economy. Nonsense about foreign reserves, ignorance about financial intermediation, lack of a defined monetary policy.
    Over he last eight years all these ideas and more, from the various schools of economics, pass Barbados by.
    Just over a year ago two of our leading economists wrote a paper, not a single reference was past-2008, the greatest economic timebomb since the war. It says a lot about their mind set.
    Had this been written for any leading university – or think tank – they would have failed or it would have been binned.
    In Barbados it passes as expertise.
    Instead of intelligent debate we indulge in personal attacks.


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