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A Matter of Urgency.

Between October 21st and October 28th 2018, there were six (6) earthquakes in the near vicinity of Trinidad and Tobago! Of these, four (4) occurred in the Gulf of Paris, west of Trinidad. One occurred north-west of Trinidad, and the other occurred off the north eastern tip of Tobago. On the weekend of 20th – 21st October,2018, Trinidad experienced the worst flooding in history, with rural areas such as Kelly Village, St. Helena, Warrenville, Las Lomas, Sangre Grande, La Horquetta, Talparo, El Carmen and Manzanilla. Across the country, east to west was under water. At the time of writing, today, Wednesday 31st., October, 2018, the UWI Seismic Research Centre reported a 4.4 West of Trinidad. That will be seven (7) earthquakes between October 21st and October 31st 2018.

These earthquakes, all around the 4.4 mark, followed the 7.0 earthquake in August 21st 2018. https://www.facebook.com/uwiseismic/

If anything, there is a need for a more, very serious view of disaster preparedness, management and mitigation, and the above statistics point to a very grave need.

Climate Change is real. The heating of the planet is causing tremendous increases in naturally occurring hurricanes, storms, rainfall, earthquake etc. The increase in populations worldwide, makes these weather phenomena much more lethal and fatal.

Surface temperatures of the oceans have increased as a result, and for the Caribbean, this spells “trouble.” The rising sea levels, the warming of oceans means more fertile conditions are present for the formation of hurricanes, storms and more rainfall, and more flooding as the environment itself becomes more degraded due to human habitation. Disasters in the Caribbean will occur, it is only a matter of scale, as the magnitude and frequency of these are ever increasing.

The flood in Trinidad during and after the weekend of 21st October was a horrifying event. It rained for three (3) days prior and heavier in some locales. The rain was forecasted by the Met office. Yet still, people and animals and things were left marooned by flood waters which came in swiftly. Search and rescue of people who simply were seeking to escape the flood waters and save their lives became the only thought in the minds.

The picture of one family trapped on their house roof was a startling realization of the severity of the flooding.

Highways and roads were impassable. One half of the island was cut off from the other. The country was virtually standstill.

Many volunteers, using makeshift crafts, and many just using their physical power, began responding to their loved ones and neighbors. It was a remarkable display of caring and compassion by ordinary folk. One off-duty policeman in Greenvale told Social Media how he just started knocking on doors and pulling out people. Other pictures showed young men rescuing elderly persons, or trapped and marooned person.

People started organizing themselves into groups to deliver much needed food, clothes and other necessities to the affected people. It was a reminder that we share a common destiny, as a country and as a nation of diverse cultures and traditions. It took a disaster to bring the country together because there was this urgent and overwhelming need to survive, to serve and to support.

This unbelievable display of camaraderie and compassion offers much as opposed to the startling revelations of the outright obscene demonstrations of the worst of our society on Social Media. This provides a challenge to us as a civil society, but these are the actions of the few.

There is undeniable proof of a nation wanting better, nestled deep within the psyche of Trinis, including the diaspora.

I recall the events of November 19th 1989, when T&T lost that match against the US. The camaraderie then was overwhelming, but T&T moved on, and did qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

Perhaps there is a message of hope that can be drawn on, to compel a nation to get up, dust itself off, and march on, relentlessly in search of Excellence.

That effort, by all, requires firm positive will to change, in the context of climate change, for the interest of the vast amount of Trinidadians who wish to progress this nation into a new model.

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