Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hurricane Tomas - starting to deal with it all...

Talk is already turning to discussions of why we were not prepared for Hurricane Tomas and what we can now do to make sure next time we are able to handle the aftermath better – there’s undoubtedly going to be a lot of that for a while – I sincerely hope for a long while! We do have a tendency to get complacent, so if there’s one good thing that comes from Tomas, I’d really like it to be that we put in place much better measures now to deal with disaster in the future.
The Challenge (photo from Lulu Bergasse)
People are out and about putting up Shelterboxes provided by Rotary and flown in courtesy of Virgin Airlines and although there was an initial level of reluctance by some people to take up residence in these, to them, odd devices that perhaps didn’t seem secure enough, reports are that they are all filled with families grateful for a comfy place to sleep and protection from the rain. 
the temporary solution - shelterboxes (photo Sean Compton)
After the demo by the people, local volunteers take over (photo Shaun Alcindor)

Dave Samuels on RSL on his usual morning programme is talking now about the psychological strain and that is something we’re now moving to deal with; I know for me even, the last nights have been filled with dreams about people I haven’t seen in ages or of looking for family and I wake up with my jaws clenched and muscles hurting from sleeping tensely … and I was not even affected by loss of home or neighbours … yes I was unable to contact two members of my family for 3 days and yes, I was affected by the terrible loss of Sabi, Eugenia and family, but compared to what some people are dealing with it seems so little. I can’t even begin to think of the level of emotional trauma those in the worst hit areas are going through.
Wasco repairing water catchment at Sarot (photo Bill Mortley)
In some cases, by hand...(photo Bill Mortley)
Now there are, I understand, moves to bring in counsellors so that’s good. It doesn’t help that we are not going to be able to get things back to normal anytime soon – people are reportedly starting to knock on doors asking if you have drinking water, someone had their pool drained overnight – ok, not having your pool full of water is no biggy, but you just hope the people who drained it are not selling that on as anything but water to clean a road or house walls with!
The public advisories are getting more frequent and much better, so there’s hope that water will be cleaned correctly before it’s used, but we know as each hot day passes and people get more tired, it cannot get any less difficult and people will be more tempted to cut corners, or ‘try a ting’.
But there is now a lot of aid pouring in – perhaps still not enough, fast enough but there are volunteers now also mobilized to manage the recording of what’s coming in, and more of the independent persons and groups that are busy getting aid to the needy are understanding the real need to let NEMO know what they’re doing so un-necessary duplication is avoided and the still scarce resources are gotten to the many genuinely needful.
So many people have volunteered, the agencies say they actually have enough volunteers – but even so, I’d say check again in a few days – many of us, myself included, are having to also start to deal with our own work – so still be prepared to take your shift!
There’s lots of people unfortunately, ready to take advantage in this time of loss – it has to be said – there are criminals everywhere at all times and we are no different here. But I will close with a heartwarming quote from one of my friends that went into some of the affected areas:
Volunteered at Red Cross and drove one of the ShelterBox guys and a CDRT person around doing assessments in the Trois Piton/Marc/Bexon/Marigot areas yesterday.... The level of destruction is overwhelming, but yet still we were given food and water by some residents in Marc. How can you not love Lucians?
Keep caring, keep helping.
Beautiful St. Lucia (photo Finola Prescott)