By Peta-Gaye Phillips
The new school year is now in full swing but not without some glitches along the way. From September 29th to September 30th, schools experienced a halt in activities due to the dangerous behaviour of Tropical Storm Nicole. For most Campion students, Tropical Storm Nicole, with her hammering rains and terrific lightning, brought with her “freedom”. Many students rejoiced as Nicole spontaneously bestowed upon them two whole days of holiday. While some students were thanking Nicole for her treasured gifts, across our small island of Jamaica the thoughts about dear Nicole were not the same.
Tropical Storm Nicole, for many in our country, meant devastation, distress and a loss of already limited and scant resources. Flood waters brought along by Nicole not only brought extensive structural damage but also took the lives of more than a dozen Jamaicans. Horrific accounts by the Gleaner newspaper related the effects of the flood waters. Reports came from communities such as the Pedro River in south-east St. Ann, where flood waters caused this community to be totally cut off from access to essential services. Persons experienced total desolation as water raged through the community, flooding and, in some cases, totally submerging houses.
The community of Sandy Park Gully in Liguanea, St. Andrew was also wrecked by torrential rains as three houses were washed away and six people were killed by the angry flood waters. Residents of other St. Andrew communities such as August Town, Tavern, and Barbican were not to be left out as mudslides and flooding in these communities resulted in extensive damage and loss.
Tropical Storm Nicole also wreaked havoc on the road infrastructure across the island causing the collapse of roadways and rendering some, such as the Bog Walk Gorge, impassable. Nicole also resulted in additional expenditure costs being added to an already stretched budget. Seven billion dollars was added to this fiscal year’s budget in order to deal with the repair of infrastructural damage caused by flood waters.
Tropical Storm Nicole has brought in her wake dismal effects. Jamaica has been battered repeatedly by many natural disasters and may be again bombarded by another storm system during this rainy season. Though previously great delight has been taken because of the ‘free days’ they bring, the memory of the adverse consequences they have on vulnerable Jamaicans should immediately halt any celebratory dances. Think of the consequences before you pray for the rain.