by Larry Smith
The response of the government and its emergency management agency to the recent smashing of the southern islands by Hurricane Joaquin has been astonishingly lacking in at least one important respect - the provision of public information.
From the outset, there were complaints that not enough warning of the storm's approach was given. In fact, this hurricane took most of us by surprise. As comedian Sawyer Boy’s pink-robed ‘Wackeeeem’ character noted: “I came from the behind”.
Early last week Hurricane Joaquin (or ‘Walkine’ as an official memo from the Ministry of Youth put it) was not on anyone’s radar. Then suddenly it was a monstrous thing right on our doorstep. This was followed by two days of intense battering as the now Category 4 storm stalled over the southern islands.
The inevitable result was widespread flooding, major damage to infrastructure, the shredding of poorly-built homes, the wrecking of boats and the loss of all communications and utilities. As late as Monday there was still uncertainty in some quarters over whether any deaths had occurred as a result of the storm.
Prime Minister Perry Christie and NEMA officials held a jaunty press briefing in Nassau on Thursday afternoon, as the storm was already battering the southern islands. This was when Christie used one of his favourite catch-phrases, describing the apparent lack of preparations on affected islands as “a teachable moment.”