Sunday, August 31, 2008

Still watching Gustav

Its 1:09 am and I am hurricane watching as i have always done when I am home in the Caribbean. I stay up all night tracking the storm and its impacts as they unfold. I recall doing the same when Katrina struck. If fact, I was vacationing with my family in Texas and they left a day before me and then I became trapped in Texas since AA was reluctant to fly to Miami. They switched me to Continental and that's how I got out and I watched Katrina from Dominica.

Now I am here, pursuing that PhD leading to research on children, Learning and Chronic Natural Disaster. Hence my love affairs with hurricane. I just love watching these storms. I hold a first degree in Geography, half of the Meteorologist back home, I taught in College. There is a fascination with these storms - their growth and development; the calm of the eyes, the surge. It is just unfortunate that man and his creations are in the way, otherwise they would be true forces of nature. Hurricanes are part of the earth global circulatory system. They redistribute, the earth moisture, air pressure and temperature, Without them some places would be too hot, others too dry or the pressure would simple build up to killer levels.

So while I pity those in its way, as a geographer, I cannot help but marvel at the systems as they trek their way. I was in high school in 1979 when Hurricane David struck Dominica and literally flattened the island, killed 49 and left about 75% of the population homeless.

I wonder about schools and the children but I still cannot understand why there are no emergency shelters. Is it the potential for flooding?

There should be more accurate figures on who stayed, where they are and what are their needs. It help to sharpen the response. We should never assume that people will respond to evacuation orders.

Schools will be disrupted again, learning will be suspended and for those who left, we are not sure if and when they will return. Will their schools be left intact? Will they be flooded? With they, their teachers and families make it through safely? All these will have their toll on these children. I am watching as all these unfold.

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