Electrical Engineering student that is interested in weather, especially tropical.
By: nigel20 , 7:11 AM GMT on May 09, 2014
With the impending hurricane season being only three weeks away, i felt the need to write a blog on the preparedness of the Caribbean. In particular, how prepared is the Caribbean in the event of a major hurricane. The Caribbean islands are located within the hurricane belt, making Caribbean islands prone to hurricanes. Hurricanes are most frequent between June 1st and November 30th, the numbers vary annually, but are natural hazards we have to live with. Hurricanes are accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge, these effects can cause billions of dollars in damages and loss of lives.
Vulnerability of Caribbean Islands
Continued degradation of our natural environment, improper land use and management of natural resources are exacerbating the the current issues at hand. The Caribbean is made up of small island developing states with very small economies. These factors make the Caribbean extremely vulnerable to hurricanes, but to be more specific, major hurricanes. Hurricane Gilbert, Ivan and Sandy are all prime examples of just how vulnerable the Caribbean is to major storms. Take Grenada for example, total damages were over US$ 800 million dollars in 2004 or over 200% of their nominal GDP. In excess of 80 % of structures were damaged or destroyed. Most recently, Christmas flooding over the eastern Caribbean shows the lack of planning for natural hazards. Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of CDEMA, told RJR News that it appeared that there was inadequate warning to the Eastern Caribbean of the trough that affected the region on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
"In the case of St. vincent, they did not receive a warning - that's the feedback coming out of the National Disaster Office. In the case of St. Lucia, there was receipt of information that a trough was going to be impacting the island" he said.
That case, Mr. Jackson said, illustrated the need for "greater distilling of infrmation provided by our met services Read more here: CDEMA wants more timely warning of bad weather in the Caribbean
Figure 1 Extensive wind damage by hurricane Ivan on Grenada. Source of image: Hurricane Ivan
How to reduce vulnerabilities
How can we reduce vulnerabilities to natural hazards, particularly weather related?
* Assessment of past natural hazards must be undertaken, so as to guide future planning.
* Economic diversification, this will help to increase equity in development and wealth creation.
* Increase in infrastructure spending, this will help to limit the damage to personal property and to lower economic losses.
* Designated areas for protection and development, this will help to efficiently manage limited land resources and lower the risk associated with unplanned development.
The above measures, among others, will help to mitigate against future natural hazards and allow for sustainable and equitable development. Comments are very much welcomed.
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Updated: 11:50 AM EST on May 27, 2015