It’s bet­ter to be dis­ap­pointed than dev­as­tated – Jack­son

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Jodi-Ann Gilpin Gleaner Writer jodi-ann.gilpin@glean­erjm.com

AS HAITI con­tin­ues to reel in de­spair from the dev­as­ta­tion caused by Hur­ri­cane Matthew, which has left at least 21 per­sons dead in the coun­try, a to­tal of 25 so far across the Caribbean, Ja­maicans are called on to not only count their bless­ings, but to heed the warn­ing and not use es­cap­ing its wrath as an ex­cuse to ig­nore fu­ture weather pro­jec­tions.

As the sys­tem de­vel­oped in the Caribbean last week, pro­jec­tions were that it was on a direct course for Ja­maica. As it strength­ened to a pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane, at one point a cat­e­gory five, all in­di­ca­tions were that Ja­maica would be sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected as Matthew inched its way to the east­ern end of the is­land.

Per­sons flooded su­per­mar­kets and other stores to stock up on sup­plies, and many bat­tened down homes, busi­nesses, and prop­er­ties in prepa­ra­tion as Ja­maica was placed on high alert as the cat­e­gory four sys­tem moved men­ac­ingly to­wards the is­land.

But as Ja­maica braced it­self, await­ing the hur­ri­cane, it con­tin­ued to move fur­ther away from the is­land and closer to the west end of Haiti.

Ja­maica was spared the worst of its wrath, but Haiti was hit a dev­as­tat­ing blow, the hur­ri­cane killing sev­eral per­sons and se­verely dam­ag­ing prop­erty. Cuba was hit next, the hur­ri­cane caus­ing ex­ten­sive de­struc­tion. Au­thor­i­ties are still as­sess­ing the ex­tent of the dam­age as com­mu­ni­ca­tion is down and many ar­eas are in­ac­ces­si­ble.

Sev­eral Ja­maicans have ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment and have ac­cused the fore­cast­ers of mak­ing wrong pro­jec­tions.

Ron­ald Jack­son, head of the Caribbean Dis­as­ter Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (CDEMA), in an in­ter­view with The Gleaner yes­ter­day, said that sev­eral things can con­trib­ute to sys­tems chang­ing course over a pe­riod of time.

Jack­son strongly sug­gested that in­di­vid­u­als con­tinue to be vig­i­lant as it is ex­pected that there will be rapid de­vel­op­ment of other sys­tems as it gets closer to the end of the hur­ri­cane sea­son in Novem­ber.

“I can’t speak to how per­sons are likely to re­act in the fu­ture. What I can tell you, though, is, if you were to ask the peo­ple in Haiti if they had to choose be­tween be­ing pre­pared, bat­ten­ing down, and be­ing left dis­ap­pointed as op­posed to the dev­as­ta­tion they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing now, I am sure they would pre­fer the dis­ap­point­ment,” he ar­gued.

“The point I’m mak­ing is that you can never be too pre­pared. We are deal­ing with some­thing ma­jor. There are many vari­ables in na­ture that we can’t nec­es­sar­ily fore­cast a long time ahead of their oc­cur­rence. We can’t fore­cast sub­tle paths that hur­ri­canes will take. You can’t fore­cast that a rift or trough will hold or not hold for a length of time. To not put peo­ple on alert with enough time to pre­pare them­selves would be ir­re­spon­si­ble,” he de­clared.

JACK­SON

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