Boat cap­tain urges Gov­ern­ment to do pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion on hur­ri­canes

Jamaica Gleaner - - WESTERN FOCUS - Clau­dia Gard­ner As­sign­ment Co­or­di­na­tor clau­dia.gard­ner@glean­erjm.com

VET­ERAN NEGRIL-BASED boat cap­tain Noel Sten­nett says the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties should quickly im­ple­ment pub­lic hur­ri­cane and ge­og­ra­phy ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes to in­crease aware­ness about how hur­ri­canes man­i­fest in the Caribbean, as with­out this, many Ja­maicans will con­tinue to dis­re­gard storm warn­ings.

“One of the main rea­sons I think per­sons don’t take hur­ri­cane warn­ings se­ri­ously is be­cause they do not have good ge­og­ra­phy knowl­edge, and I think it should be taught on a wider scale in Ja­maica in the schools so peo­ple can un­der­stand when a hur­ri­cane threat­ens, what dam­age it can cause,” Sten­nett told Western Fo­cus last Tues­day, as he re­laxed at Mos­quito Cove in Hanover, where he had docked his yacht fol­low­ing the is­suance of the Hur­ri­cane Matthew alerts.

“I think ODPEM needs to have a pro­gramme to ed­u­cate the peo­ple more about dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness. Just watch­ing it on the tele­vi­sion, not ev­ery­body gets the full knowl­edge; some peo­ple don’t even lis­ten to news,” he said.

SCEP­TI­CAL OF WARN­INGS

Sten­nett, who op­er­ates a 54-foot recre­ational yacht in the tourism sec­tor, said that in his 23 years as a sea­man, he has never once failed to ac­knowl­edge hur­ri­cane warn­ings, as in his line of busi­ness and based on his ex­per­tise, ev­ery storm threat should be taken with the great­est level of se­ri­ous­ness. He said many peo­ple re­main scep­ti­cal of warn­ings, which, in a lot of cases, re­sult in un­nec­es­sary loss of lives and prop­erty.

“What most peo­ple don’t un­der­stand is the course that the hur­ri­cane takes and the tem­per­a­ture of the at­mos­phere – be­cause the warmer the at­mos­phere, the more the hur­ri­cane de­vel­ops; the cooler the at­mos­phere, it breaks the hur­ri­cane. We are in a trop­i­cal coun­try, so if the hur­ri­cane comes off the west or the north­west side, it will come down to the Caribbean be­cause the Caribbean is much warmer,” he ex­plained.

“But some­times the hur­ri­cane can take a turn, but the band of the hur­ri­cane is still wide. So some peo­ple will say: ‘Wi naw pre­pare f-i no hur­ri­cane be­cause a want dem want di Chinie man f-i sell dem food’ and ‘Gov­ern­ment want f-i mek money’, be­cause they don’t have the full knowl­edge. That is the rea­son, some­times, that so many peo­ple lose their lives,” he said.

Added Sten­nett: “I take the threat of a hur­ri­cane very se­ri­ous. I al­ways pre­pare my­self for a hur­ri­cane; help the crew and so on. As a cap­tain, we have high re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. So as soon as the Met Of­fice starts to put out warn­ings, we take that se­ri­ously and be­gin to move our ves­sels to safer har­bour.”

PHOTO BY CLAU­DIA GARD­NER

A sec­tion of Mos­quito Cove in Hanover. Mos­quito Cove is the safest har­bour for boats in Ja­maica dur­ing a storm.

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