It’s better to be disappointed than devastated – Jackson
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.