Thursday, April 18, 2024

THE LOWDOWN: Pros ‘n’ cons

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We’re talking here about putting Bajan lives at risk. And let’s not beat around the bush: the Barbados Met Office failed to inform the country adequately about Tropical Storm Tomas.
Either they were caught unawares, as I believe, and didn’t recognise the extent of the danger. Or if their claim is true that they were “tracking the system” since Monday, October 25, with David Best telling TV viewers about it every night, and that their tracking, according to acting director Hampden Lovell, was “very, very accurate” throughout, then we must conclude they have zero communications skills.
Met Officer Cammie Burke admits as much, saying that information from their department is seldom taken seriously.
It gets even more scary when director Lovell tells us his officers worked “extremely hard” during the storm, even at times mopping water out of the department while continuing to work!
Are we to believe, Mr Lovell, that the Met Office, on which our lives depend during a hurricane, is not weatherproof? And you have the gall, sir, to criticise people who didn’t put up storm shutters?
Nor can we accept that because of “protocol”, storm warnings for Barbados must be issued by the Hurricane Centre (in Miami?). Or that our fancy new radar is more or less useless until our Met officers learn how to interpret the pictures from it! Hello?
Am I missing something here?
No, something went wrong big time with Tomas.
So much so that Judy apparently wasn’t even energised to open the emergency shelters. And we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Let’s deal first with communication. The Met Office must realise that, like the rest of us who venture into the media, they are competing for attention.
I don’t have TV, but everybody loves David Best.
But Best’s best may need a bit of beefing up from “Good evening, viewers!” and clasping the hands.
How about he comes on in Rasta wig with some tight dance moves to a dub backing track. And launches into: “I-man dread is I-man Best, check out the I and forget the rest. Cold fronts coming from the North and East; too many cold fronts, man can’t get peace!”
Now bring up the Plastic Bag music and David goes: “Oye Oye Oye, something’s happening, Tomas coming, high winds goin’ blow all night, heavy rains goin’ mek we . . . ; run quick and get secure, nail up de old front door . . . .”
You get the gist. If Contone could make the whole of Barbados aware that his car “brek down, cheez on” and Paula gone and left him, surely David Best can make people sit up and listen to weather information of vital importance to our safety?
Next we need a realistic hurricane plan. The Met Office has to call the shots on advisories, not wait on protocol. Officers need to be trained to use our radar if, as it seems, they haven’t mastered it as yet.
The constant bleating by “experts” about Barbados’ vulnerability is nonsense. It is totally impossible and unnecessary to make every old Bajan house hurricane-proof, given that a major system impacts us about every 50 years.
Secure people in proper shelters and let the dead wood blow. And Bajans need to keep material possessions to a minimum, which is our main problem.
We shall tackle the real lowdown on Tomas next week, God willing, for I must bid farewell to a great friend and outstanding veterinarian. Dr “Maxie” Proverbs, familiarly known as “The Pro”, for many years did most of the farm animal practice in Barbados almost single-handedly. He passed away last week at 92.
“The Pro” was no sweetbread. He arrived at our farm expecting to find all animals for treatment ready and waiting, assistants on hand. He hit the ground running and went from call to call in a flash.
But he was good! Other vets could tell if a cow was in calf and how far along. Many of us swear “The Pro” could put his hand in a cow and also know the gender of the calf, its colour and the name of the bull!
Dr Proverbs made a giant contribution to our livestock sector. May he rest in peace!
• Richard Hoad is a fromer and social commentator.

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