Hurricane Irma Poses Questions

Senator McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to be more active than historical averages with regard to the number of named storms, according to the latest forecasts released by Colorado State University, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and The Weather Company, an IBM Business.”

Hurricane Central

So far the 2017 hurricane season is following the script. Unfortunately it is the Northern Caribbean which has suffered nature’s fury with losses estimated in the billions. And as the loss adjusters continue to assess damage to property, we remember the 68 deaths reported.

What the post-response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma on Caribbean islands has confirmed is the opportunity for Barbados to improve its disaster response effort if such were to reoccur.  Based on reports the few Barbadians who found themselves trapped in the Northern Caribbean as a result of Irma, exposed logistical difficulty for the Barbados government to mount a rescue effort.

Well managed organizations implement Business Continuity Plans that include a Disaster Recovery Plan. The objective is to ensure if key services become unavailable the business will be able to respond first to protect resources and second to get back online in the shortest period even if in a limited way.  The stories being told by Bajans stranded in the hurricane torn countries- especially Poonka’s- has exposed a weak regional emergency response framework.

Many if not all the English Caribbean islands enacted sunset legislation to support information sharing to facilitate the hosting of CWC2007. The CWC experience serves to support a precedent for strengthening cooperation by efficiently leveraging resources -financial and human.

The inability of regional countries to respond quickly to Caricom citizens trapped in countries affected by Hurricane Irma serves as a reminder the region has some work to do to improve functional cooperation. Stories about citizens having to text Minister McClean and friends to alert of their status was embarrassing. In contrast the US government was able to erringly locate its citizens in the affected countries and airlift them out, quickly. While regional governments do not have access to the same resources, we can do better. What is the role of CEDEMA, RSS, Caricom Secretariat and other regional agencies if not to protect the well being of citizens in the region? Minister Maxine McClean’s explanation about citizens not wanting to declare destination information is weak. Poonka’s suggestion that LIAT’s passenger database- and other regional travel carriers- should be available to identify stranded passengers in times of disaster is a no-brainer.

There is no better way to nurture pride in country than in situations where the citizenry observes how its government responds to nationals in distress in a ‘foreign land’ in this instance.  There is a reason why many Americans are driven to shed a tear and place the hand over the heart when the national anthem is played or the pledge recited.

We continue to debate whether climate change will increase the severity of natural disasters in the future. We continue to debate if there is a building code in Barbados? We continue to debate why citizens affected by Tomas have been unable to unlock funds from the catastrophe fund. We continue to debate why residents trapped in White Hill cannot be given a solution.

On a related note, it is interesting to observe how Venezuela has responded to the humanitarian effort to assist Caribbean islands affected by Irma in contrast to the US and UK where there are reports of restrictions to aid monies.

123 thoughts on “Hurricane Irma Poses Questions

  1. Another area of disturbed weather in the Atlantic.

    Storm or not, the ground is saturated.

    Flooding easy now.

    But, those in the Scotland District need to be very careful and not assume anything if rain presents.

    Land slips can happen.

    I suspect the next couple of years will be “wet” years as well if the experience of the past is anything to go by.

    Big hurricanes are followed by wet years.

  2. Earthquakes also seem to happen.

    Check the list of Hurricanes/gales from Schomburgk up to 1846.

    He really only has a fraction of them and a few do have earthquakes associated.

    It may be statistically insignificant data but look at Mexico.

    Can’t really do much with earthquakes, no warning like with hurricanes.

  3. From Schomburgk: A Chronological List of Hurricanes and severe Gales in the West Indies, from their discovery to the year 1846.

    1494, June 16. A violent hurricane from the south-west felt in Hispaniola. Peter Martyr ; Herrera.

    1502, July 1. Tremendous hurricane in Hispaniola, twenty sail with all on board perished. Herrera.

    1508, August 3. A violent hurricane in St. Domingo; it blew first from the north, and then shifted suddenly to the south ; every house in Buena­ venture blown down, and twenty vessels destroyed. Herrera.

    1509, July 29. Another hurricane in St. Domingo, which, although it did not commit so much damage in the town, did much injury in the country. Oviedo.

    1526, October. A hurricane with severe rain, causing a flood. Herrera.

    Hurricane in Cuba. The expedition under Narvaez was partly destroyed this year by a hurricane.
    A severe hurricane in Porto Rico. Herrera.

    1623, September 19. Hurricane in St. Christopher’s ; it destroyed the crops of tobacco of the first settlers.

    There were three hurricanes in the course of this year in the West Indies; the second lasted twenty-four hours, during which the houses were all blown down in St. Christopher’s, and twenty-three fully-laden vessels were destroyed upon the coast. Du Tertre.
    A hurricane in Martinique. Du Tertre.
    A hurricane in the West Indies, from which the fleet under Prince Rupert greatly suffered. Prince Maurice his brother was lost in this hurricane.
    Two hurricanes in the West Indies. In Guadaloupe, most of the houses were destroyed; every vessel at anchor in the roads was wrecked, and most of their crews drowned. Du Tertre.
    Another severe hurricane in Guadaloupe, after which an enormous quantity of caterpillars showed themselves, which destroyed the Vegetation which the gale had spared. Du Tertre.

    1664, October 22 and 23. A severe gale and heavy rains destroyed the Vegetation in Guadaloupe, and caused almost a famine.

    1666, August 4 and 5. A severe hurricane in Guadaloupe which lasted twenty-four hours. It blew down the houses and killed several persons. This hurricane destroyed Lord Willoughby’s armament, and he himself lost his life in it. It was likewise felt in Martinique and St. Christopher’s, but with less violence.

    1667, August 19. A hurricane in Barbados. (See ante, p. 45.)

    1667, September 1. A tremendous hurricane desolated the island of St. Christopher’s; not a house or sugar-work remained standing. It began at nine o’clock in the morning with a strong gale from the north, which lasted until five o’clock in the afternoon ; at six it shifted to the south, when the devastation commenced.

    1670, October 7. A hurricane in Jamaica which drove the English fleet ashore, except Morgan’s vessel.

    1674, August 10. A severe gale in Barbados. (See ante, p. 45.)

    1675, August 31. A tremendous hurricane in Barbados. (See ante, p. 45.)

    The island of Antigua suffered from a hurricane this year.

    1694, August 13. A great sea-wave destroyed James’s fort.

    1694, October. A hurricane in Barbados. (See ante, P: 45.)

    1695, October 2. A hurricane and earthquake in Martinique. Labat.

    A gale in Barbados. (See ante, p. 45.)
    A severe hurricane i!] Nevis.

    1712, August 28. A dreadful hurricane in Jamaica. Bryan Edwards.

    A hurricane in Guadaloupe. Warden.

    1714, August 13 and 14. Another hurricane in Guadaloupe. Warden.

    1714, August 29. Jamaica suffered from a severe gale, and several men-of- war were driven ashore. Warden.

    1722, August 28. A tremendous hurricane in Jamaica which shook the island to its foundation.’ Bryan Edwards.

    1726, October 22. A severe hurricane in Jamaica; several houses and about fifty vessels were destroyed in the different ports. Long.

    1728, August 19. Hurricane at Antigua.

    A severe storm in Barbados. (See ante, p. 46.)
    A hurricane did great damage in Jamaica.

    1737, September 9. The town of St. Louis in St. Domingo was entirely destroyed by a hurricane. All the ships at anchor were thrown upon the coast. Gentleman’s Magazine.

    Grande-Terre in Guadaloupe suffered severely from a hurricane. Warden.
    A hurricane devastated the southern coast of the island of Porto Rico. Warden.

    1744, October 20. A hurricane demolished the Mosquito fort in Jamaica; eight men-of-war and· ninety-six merchant vessels were stranded, wrecked, or foundered. It lasted twenty-four hours, and the wind was
    all that time due south.

    1747, September 21 and October 24. Two hurricanes committed great damage among the Leeward Islands ; fourteen sail of merchantmen were lost at St. Christopher’s, and thirty-six at the other islands.

    1754, September. St. Domingo was greatly injured by a hurricane; twelve vessels were lost loaded with 1700 hogsheads of sugar.

    1756, September 12. A hurricane desolated Martinique. Chanvalon.

    1759, September. A heavy gale in the Gulf of Mexico.

    1762, December 9. A storm from the southward in Carthagena accompanied by an earthquake ; two Spanish men-of-war driven ashore, and the castle of Santa Maria was entirely destroyed.

    1766, August 13 and 14. A tremendous hurricane ravaged Martinique so that its effects were felt for twenty years after. It commenced on the 13th of August at ten o’clock at night, with a strong wind from the north-west, which was followed by an earthquake. About one hundred persons lost their lives, and upwards of thirty-five ships foundered or were stranded. Warden.

    1766, September 13 and 15. A severe hurricane in St. Christopher’s and Montserrat ; half the town destroyed in the latter island, and many vessels lost. Annual Register.

    1766, September 21. A violent hurricane in St. Eustatius and Tortuga. Annual Register.

    1766, October 6. A severe gale in Dominica and Guadaloupe; five vessels driven ashore. Annual Register.

    1766, October 22 and 23. A violent hurricane in the harbour of Pensacola. Five Spanish vessels driven ashore in the Bay of St. Barnard.

    1768, October 25. A tremendous hurricane at Ravanna. Above 4100 houses were destroyed, and more than 1000 persons perished. Annual Register.

    1772, August 4 and 5. The southern part of St. Domingo was devastated by a hurricane which lasted five hours ; many vessels were lost. Warden.

    1772, August 28. A hurricane accompanied by an earthquake did great injury in Porto Rico.

    1772, August 31. A most violent hurricane devastated the Leeward and Virgin Islands. It commenced from the north-east, and after a short calm shifted suddenly to the south-west by south. Numerous ‘per­
    sons were killed, and the greater number of vessels in these islands destroyed.

    1774, October 20. A hurricane in Jamaica. Warden.

    1776, September 5 and 6. A hurricane destroyed twenty-two sail in Martinique, and committed great damage in Guadaloupe.

    1780, October 3 and 4. A hurricane and earthquake laid waste Savannah-la­mar in Jamaica, and destroyed a great portion of the county of Cornwall. The hurricane was felt on the 4th in Cuba. Annual Register;
    Bryan Edwards. ·

    1780, October 10 and 11. Dreadful hurricane in Barbados (see ante, P: 46); St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, St. Christopher’s, &c. The hurricane was accompanied by an earthquake in Martinique, where it committed the greatest ravages ; 9000 persons were said to have perished, and the damage was estimated at 700,000 Louis-d’or. Annual Register. [Warden gives the 10th of November, no doubt erroneously, as the date of this awful occurrence.]

    1781, August 1. Jamaica was again desolated by a hurricane ; several men-of­ war and merchant vessels were lost. It extended to Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Annual Register.

    1784, July 30. .Another hurricane in Jamaica, accompanied by two shocks of an earthquake ; numerous lives were lost, and every vessel in the harbour except four was foundered or stranded. Westminster Magazine.

    1785, August 27. Jamaica suffered from a hurricane. Bryan Edwards.

    1785, August 31. A hurricane in Guadaloupe. Warden.

    1786, August. A hurricane in St. Domingo.

    1786, September 2. A violent hurricane in Barbados. (See ante, p. 50.)

    1786, September 10. Guadaloupe suffered great damage from a hurricane.

    1786, October 20. A hurricane in Jamaica. Bryan Edwards.

    1787, August 3, 23 and 29. Dominica was visited by three severe gales in this month, which destroyed all ‘the vessels in the island, and blew down the barracks and buildings upon Morne Bruce. Annual Re­gister.

    1787, September 23. A violent hurricane and floods of rain at Belize. It began to blow from the north-north-west and shifted to the south­west ; five hundred houses were thrown down and one hundred persons perished ; eleven square-rigged vessels were lost.

    1788, August 14. A hurricane committed great damage in Martinique, Warden.

    1791, June 2 I. Heavy rains and severe winds caused a flood in Havannah,by which 257 of the inhabitants lost their lives, and 11,700 head of cattle are said to have perished in the flood. Annual Register.

    1792, August l. Severe hurricane in Antigua, St. Bartholemew’s and the other Leeward Islands. Annual Register.

    1793, August. Severe hurricane in St. Christopher’s. Bryan Edwards.

    1794, August 27 and 28. A great hurricane at the Havannah, which caused the loss of several vessels. Humboldt; Warden.

    1795, August 18. Much injury was done to Antigua by a hurricane. Bryan Edwards.

    1796, October 3. A hurricane raged at the Bahamas and committed much injury to the shipping and the country. Bryan Edwards.

    1801, July 22. A terrible hurricane at Nassau; 120 sail were lying as wrecks on shore. Bryan Edwards.

    1804, September 3 and 6. A severe hurricane began to blow on the 3rd of September at Martinique, Guadaloupe, Porto Rico, the Virgin Islands, &c., extended through all the Leeward islands, and was felt on the 8th of September at the coast of Carolina: at Charleston the loss was estimated at a million of dollars. fhe island of St. Christopher’s suffered severely; 274 vessels were said to have been lost in the West Indies. Bryan Edwards.

    1805, July 27. Hurricane in the latitude of Jamaica.

    1806, August 30, September 13, October 5 and 27. The Bahamas were visited by four dreadful gales this year, which produced the greatest misery.

    1806, September 9. A dreadful hurricane in Dominica; 457 persons were killed, and almost every house blown down. Every vessel in the harbour was sunk or driven ashore. Bryan Edwards.

    1806, September 24. Another gale in Dominica.

    1806, October 5. A gale in Barbados. (Sec ante, P: 51.)

    1807, July 25. A severe gale in St. Christopher’s and Montserrat; nine vessels were lost .

    1809, July 27 and August I. Two gales in the West Indies, but more severely in Dominica and Guadaloupe. The Jamaica fleet was dispersed by this gale on the 27th of July .

    1809, September 2. Severe gale in Guadaloupe.

    1809, October 13. A gale in Martinique.

    1809, October 18. Trinidad suffered from a gale attended with dreadful lightning and deluging rains. Some small vessels were driven ashore.

    1810, August 12. Trinidad was visited by a severe gale, which committed much injury, chiefly in Toco, where scarcely a house was left standing. Similar were the effects in the quarter of Diego l\Iartin. It was felt in Barbados, and the schooner Laura was driven ashore.

    1812, October 12. A severe gale in Jamaica .

    1812, October 14. The same hurricane destroyed 500 houses in the city of Trinidad in Cuba, and many vessels were sunk or wrecked in the harbour of Casilda
    1813, July 22. A severe gale in Barbados. (See ante, p. 51.)

    1813, July 22 and 23. Dominica, l\Iartinique, and St. Christopher’s were seriously damaged by this hurricane. The barracks at Morne Bruce were leveled with the ground, and numbers of persons were killed and wounded, or blown over the cliffs into the sea. All the shipping were driven ashore in St. Christopher’s. Bryan Edwards.

    1813, July 26. The consequences of this severe hurricane in Bermuda were of the most lamentable kind. In the harbour of St. George more than sixty sail of ships were stranded. Bryan Edwards.
    1813, July 31. A hurricane blew with great violence in Jamaica. A number of vessels sunk or were stranded in Port Royal. During the storm a severe shock of an earthquake was felt. Bryan Edwards.

    1813, August 25. Another hurricane occurred in Dominica, which was attended by deluges of rain. Bryan Edwards.

    1815, September 18. A great gale commenced on the 18th of September at St. Bartholomew’s; it reached Turk’s island on the 20th, and extended to Rhode island, where it blew on the 23rd with great force from the south-east.

    1815, September 29. A gale did some injury to the shipping in Barbados.

    1815, October 18 and 19. A severe storm in Jamaica, which proved particularly destructive to the county of Surrey. Several vessels were stranded and some lives lost. Annals of Jamaica.

    1816, September 15. A severe gale in Barbados. (See ante, p. 51.)

    1816, October 16 and 17. A severe gale in Dominica, Martinique, &c. During the heizht of the storm in Dominica on the 17th, some shocks of an earthquake were felt which shook the stone buildings to their foundations. The shock was likewise felt in Barbados at a quarter-past ten on the 17th.

    1817, September 15. A severe gale in Dominica.

    1817, October 21. A tremendous hurricane, which exercised its fury over the islands of St. Vincent, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique, &c. General Seymour, the Governor of St. Lucia, with many others perished by the fall of the Government House. The shipping in Barbados suffered severely.

    1818, August 28. A violent gale in Bermuda.

    1818, September 27. A severe gale in Barbados. (See ante, P: 51.) It extended to Dominica, Martinique, &c.

    1819, September 21 and 22. A most destructive hurricane caused the greatest damage and serious loss of life in the Virgin Islands. It extended to Porto Rico; it was likewise felt in St, Martin’s, St. Christopher’s, St. Bartholomew’s; Antigua, and as far south as St. Lucia.

    1819, October 13 and 15. · A severe gale accompanied by floods of rain in Barbados. (See ante, P: 51.)

    1821, September I. A severe gale accompanied by a shock of an earthquake was felt in Guadaloupe , upwards of 200 lives were lost, and eighty­ eight houses were destroyed in Basse-Terre. Warden.

    1821, September l. A severe hurricane was experienced the same day in Turk’s Island; it extended on the 2nd to the Bahamas, and was felt on the 3rd along the coast of North America from Carolina to Long
    Island. Redfield.

    1821, September 9. A severe gale in Antigua, St. Bartholomew’s.

    1822, March I I. A severe gale at Montego Bay in Jamaica.

    1822, December 18 and 19. A severe gale did great injury in Barbados. (See ante, p. 52.) It was felt in Dominica, Martinique, and Guadaloupe. In the latter island sixteen French and ten American vessels
    besides coasters were stranded.

    1825, July 26. A terrific hurricane in Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Porto Rico. Numerous lives were lost in Basse-Terre; in Guadaloupe, among others, was the Abbe Graffe, Bishop of the French in the West Indies. Six villages were destroyed in Porto Rico.

    1825, October I. A severe gale in Cuba, which destroyed a large number of buildings. Warden. ·

    1827~ August 18 and 21. Violent hurricanes in Antigua, St. Christopher’s, the Virgin Islands, Hayti, Jamaica, &c. It extended to Turk’s Island on the 20th, and to the Bahamas on the 21st. It passed over Barbados without much injury. Redfield.

    1827, August 28. A gale of greater violence than that of the 17th of August raged in St. Thomas’s and the other Virgin Islands.

    1830, August 11, 12 and 14. A severe gale at Dominica and Antigua; it extended to St. Thomas’s. It reached Turk’s Island on the 13th, and the Bahamas on the 14th of August. Redfield.

    1830, August 22 and 23. A severe gale in Turk’s Island and the Bahamas. Redfield.

    1830, September 29. A severe gale in the Caribbee Islands. Redfield.

    1831, June 23 and 24. An awful gale in Trinidad, where it caused great injury. It was felt very severely in Tobago and Grenada, and extended to the coast of Yucatan.

    1831, August 10 and 11. A terrific hurricane in Barbados. (See ante, P: 53.) It produced great damage in St. Vincent and St. Lucia, and slightly touched Martinique. On the 12th it arrived at Porto Rico; the town of Aux Cayes in Hayti was nearly destroyed by its force, and St. Jago de Cuba much injured. On the 14th it was at the Havannah, on the 16th and 17th on the northern shores of the Mexican sea. It blew a ‘dreadful gale in New Orleans on the 17th, accompanied with torrents of rain. Almost all the shipping in the river were driven ashore. The back part of the city of New Orleans was completely inundated. It was simultaneously felt at Pensacola and Mobile, and extended to Natchez 300 miles up the river. Its duration was six days from the time it commenced in Barbados and its course cycloidal; the distance passed over by the storm from Barbados to New Orleans is 2100 nautical miles, and the average rate of its progress fourteen miles an hour. Purdy.

    1832, June 6. A hurricane in the Bahamas, which was felt in Bermuda on the following day.

    1834, October 20’and 21. Severe gale in Martinique. Warden.

    1835, August 12 and 13. A severe hurricane in Antigua,. Nevis, St. Christopher’s, Virgin Island, Porto Rico, passing over Cuba.

    1835, September 3. A severe gale in Barbados. (See ante, p. 61.)

    1837, July .9 and 10. A. gale in Barbados. (See ante, P: 61.)

    1837, July 26. Another .gale in Barbados. (See ante, I’: 62.) It passed over Martinique, St. Crux, and extended to the straits of Florida. Reid.

    1837, August 2 and 4. A severe hurricane in Antigua, the Virgin islands, Porto Rico, and raged on the 6th on the coast of Florida. Reid.

    1837, August 14 and 15. A severe gale at Turk’s Island and Cayos.

    1844, October 5. A severe hurricane at the Havannah -,

    1846, September 12. A gale in Barbados. (See ante, p. 62.)

    1846, October 10 and 11. A severe hurricane at the Havannah, A destructive swell of the sea was felt at the east end of Jamaica on the 10th, at the west end on the 11th, and an overwhelming flood on the intermediate islands of the Caymanas.

    From the year 1494 to 1846, or in a period of 352 years,. I have found recorded 127 hurricanes and severe gales which committed more or less injury in the West Indies. Of this number occurred in the month of March, I; June, 4 ; July, 11 ; August, 40 ; September, 28; October, 28; December, 2; and of 13 I have not succeeded in finding the month recorded.

  4. Simple…this is the info i found on them, bigger countries always continue testing to make a better, more efficicient, more durable product, more often than not, they achieve success.

    …Clay and concrete roof tiles can resist damage from extreme weather and circumstances like hailstones, storms, and hurricane-force winds. … Its design and construction provide high air permeability, which helps relieve wind stress.Jul 6, 2017..

  5. What is grinding me is to hear of the destruction of the poor of Dominica. Why am I not hearing that Ross has/will be loosing millions? Why has Ross not been reduced to ruins too?

  6. Finally saw the helicopter I have been hearing several time a day for the past week or so in the clear blue sky.

    Looks like a Chinook.

    I hear it is British military.

    Reckon it too is part of the relief effort not only for Maria but also Irma.

  7. John

    Coggins hill residents told me decades ago how their chattel houses on stilts with the typical hip roof swayed and survived Janet intact……why……does not the pitch of the hip serve as a receptor of the wind there by exerting a downward force on the roof thereby keeping it on?

  8. Janet was not a terribly strong hurricane.

    It passed to the south of the island.

    I was not born but I heard stories from my parents of my father’s futile attempts to get his in-laws to spend the time where my parents lived, about where the Met Institute is in St. James.

    They refused preferring to see it out in Christ Church at my Grandfather’s house which my father knew would get hammered.

    Like all Bajans they were obstinate squared!!

    My parents had little trouble where they were.

    They were just a few miles North of Christ Church.

    When they drove to Christ Church they were shocked to see the desolation and hear the harrowing experiences of my father’s in-laws.

    There was no radar or satellite ,,,, my father went on coordinates and called right for his family.

    Coggins Hill probably experienced slight winds compared with Christ Church.

    Barbados was extremely lucky in Janet.

    It nailed Grenada.

    More than 40 years later when I was hiking in Grenada we passed through a Nutmeg plantation in the mountains and were told all the trees had to be replanted after Janet.

    We were lucky.

    But Janet showed up the flawed construction and caused inordinate destruction in the south.

    The further away you were the better off you were.

  9. I have always heard the steeper the pitch the better.

    But if the roof isn’t tied to the frame, it will go at lower wind speeds than if it were tied.

    Beyond a certain wind speed all the precautions in the world will be of no use.

    Better to have a safe room somewhere in the house.

    My family survived Andrew in Miami in their bathroom

    Roof was hammered and had to be replaced … flying objects.

  10. Home Shapes And Roofs That Hold Up Best In Hurricanes

    June 21, 2007
    New Jersey Institute of Technology
    Certain home shapes and roof types can better resist high winds and hurricanes, according to new research. The researcher spent two years examining the findings of research centers that have studied the best designs and construction materials and methods needed to withstand extreme wind events and hurricanes

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