Submitted by Kammie Holder
Over 2 million without electricity or phone service, 500,000 in Florida homeless, many may be forced to swim or drown, 20,000,000 written in words is twenty million which represents, the amount homeless in Pakistan after severe flooding. The aforementioned are but a few of the narratives coming from weather reports. Highest wind speed recorded of Hurricane Ian, was some 241 kilometers per hour just short of a category 5 hurricane.
Some will say in the most believable way, that god is Bajan, and Barbados, due to is location have nothing to worry about. I have news for those who believe, that to ignore what has a slim chance of occurring, prevents the eventuality. Super storms, and category 4 hurricanes, and above will become the norm as the earth heats up. Thus, is not if but when for Barbados.
For many years the major oil companies denied their flaring polluted or contributed to global warming. Only this week, a leaked document to the BBC, showed less than honest reporting from these oil giants. It’s my biased opinion, the industrialized world and multinationals mostly practicing capitalist, could care less about the impact of global warming on Small Island Developing States.
Therefore,those who are building, must build homes that can at least withstand a Cat3 hurricane. It makes more sense to take a little longer and build a stronger house, rather than the nonsense I am seeing promoted, with walls made from concrete wood. Financial institutions will have to be flexible in their lending policies and terms, if they genuinely understand that good Corporate Social Responsibility, will not take from their supernormal profits but may actually enhance their bottom line.
Expect, reinsurers and insurance companies, to be more selective in the type of property risk they will be willing to underwrite in the near future. Let me say, concrete board in the long run will cost you more, than a properly built wall structure with adequate shear walls and a concrete roof. A concrete roof, is much cheaper than a permaclad roof. Do not take my word for it, do your own calculations of materials and labor cost per sq ft.
My concern, is that too many botchers are masquerading as tradesmen and taking advantage of persons. When a house is poorly built, the cost goes up in terms of maintenance and remedial work. In addition, it’s a charge on the treasury when a government, as part of their sovereign social responsibility have to step in, when your poorly constructed structure is destroyed by a freak gust.
My humble request to the authorities. You can do several things, to mitigate chaos after a disaster, and reduce the risk exposure to the housing stock. Enforce a building code, and require all tradesmen men to be certified as well as registered by a set period in the future. Please, do not tell me any stupidity about the poor black man got to eat, for it’s the same poor black man giving another poor black man shoddy work. The cost of ignorance or indifference, is never shown as a financial charge to taxpayers, truth be told we all collectively pay.
What I also find comical, is that we continue to expand the QEH A&E in a flood prone area, next to one of the major water courses in Barbados called the Careenage. Did I also read somewhere, another hospital going up somewhere near Bayview? If not to add insult to common sense, Town Planning still stuck in 2022 with an archaic law limiting the highest point of a residential home to 28 feet in the pan cake island Barbados. The popular dictum which has infected the brains of many in Barbados, is to never question the experts, just accept whatever is told to you and follow blindly. When the 1 in 100 year flood comes, we can all just throw our hands in the air, and beg the first world for assistance.
Perhaps we can learn something from Bermuda, and their mandatory roof specifications. Most of Barbados housing stock will not survive a cat2 hurricane. We need to focus on resilience and not on fancy looking wastefully designed roofs. For if we thought the Covid-19 pandemic set us back, we better pray god is indeed a Bajan for our luck will soon run out. Those who want to follow the science blindly can do so at their own peril, not me.