Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria or HIM, plundered, looted and annihilated the Caribbean, Houston and Florida leaving suffering, death, misery and a distinct lack of responsiveness and sometimes empathy because of the sheer weight of the frequency, strength and pathways of these storms. The weight of the burden seems to have cornered the psyche into a reluctant acceptance of the inevitable, and place tremendous stresses on the response mechanisms in place to help.
The total devastation of property in the small, northernmost islands of the Caribbean has created serious hardships for people, especially in Dominica, Barbuda, the BVI, the USVI and Puerto Rico. The scenes of roofs blown away, houses demolished, ships being deposited on roads, cars being mangled and destroyed, and vegetation reduced to mere branches, the Caribbean resembles the shock waved desolation of a severely bombed out city in World War 11. The brown branches creates a bizarre sight as if the sea blast from the hurricane winds rusted the trees and plants on the islands. The land looks barren, as if sprayed by some kind of leaf destroying chemical was used. The people look tired, frustrated, and weakened, but resolute, as all Caribbean people are, even when faced with such adversity.
In the BVI & USVI, St. Maarten and Anguilla, help is being administered from the nations to which they belong, but response, recovery and stability is ongoing through their various military and civil engineering capabilities. Re-building is a slow and painful process, even in territorial islands. Puerto Rico seems to have suffered greatly from the inertia created by the HIM effect i.e. The frequency and force, the destruction and disruption created by this stream of gigantic storms. There seems to be a psychological lag in the ability to deal and cope mentally with this effect. A resigned feeling of the weight of the burden as resources are stretched far and wide. The island suffered catastrophic damage, and at the point of writing is experiencing, a discombobulated bureaucracy, limiting the and severely hampering the delivery of aid so critically needed.
Dominica, has been reduced to rubble and memories as the island’s survival is at the forefront of the entire Caribbean diaspora. The Dominican Prime Minister was challenged to control his emotions as he sought help and assistance. It is not a good sight of this beautiful Caribbean gem. To simply survive in the immediate future will be a huge task, let alone the medium and long term.
It is critical Dominica receives aid to survive. But from where, firstly, distributed equitably secondly, and then utilized for sustainability. But is that reasonable, while sounding good. Is it reasonable to assume fairness, equitability and equality and political maturity. It is certainly possible as other islands such as Grenada has demonstrated. How can these islands seek out the future with boldness and confidence, in an environment of dependence created through historical antecedents and colonization. Breaking out requires a starting point. The devastation might just be an opening to stride purposely into the 21st Century, utilizing technological advancement for economic prosperity. Can this small island state negotiate with industry leaders to create this sort of development for island populations to be used as a model. Is it just a fantasy, or can Google or FB or the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation step in and donate their considerable wealth, expertise and generosity to create a new reality for the islands.
The answer is that kind of initiative is entirely possible but requires the foresight, will and relentless pursuit of this. It can become a catalyst for the CARICOM, as the regional organization representing the Caribbean to step-up and show some initiative. They have remained ineffective, relying on directives, grand plans, and stifling bureaucracy to merely exist. Their performance in terms of fostering a concerted effort to take part in the global digital economy has not been forthcoming, except to articulate a cumbersome Regional ICT plan which is becoming outdated because of the lack of urgency or will. CARICOM has not displayed the sort of global thinking for engaging the global economy except on a diplomatic level, and appears to be more concerned with representation rather than economic sustainability.
When the doom and gloom of the devastation and trauma of the hurricane has lifted, these affected island should not go back to the old, but instead look to the exciting new age, where there can be sustainability.
That is well within reach!