WHEN our leaders talk about the impact our nation has suffered from the impacts of major storms, it can sometimes be hard to get an idea of the scale of the blows we have suffered.
A new report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) gives an idea of that – and shows that our concern is far from misplaced.
Compared to other Caribbean countries over the past 20 years, we have suffered almost three times as much when it comes to losses related to hurricanes, or economic damage.
We can name the storms in that period – their names are scars upon our history, some of which have left permanent scars in our landscape. Dorian. Matthew. Nicole. Joaquin. Irma. The list goes on.
The bank has even put a price tag on what it has cost us - $6.7bn. That is more than half our gross domestic product. By comparison, Jamaica’s tally stands at 17 percent. Barbados sits at just two percent.
Imagine all that money back in our economy – the difference it might make both at a national and a personal level.
That of course is just taking into account the financial cost. There is a much more personal cost – the lives of those we have lost.
And those costs will only become more frequent, according to predictions. A once-a-century storm is now once every 25 years.
So there is good reason for us to be at the front of the queue, demanding to be heard. We need to be at the forefront of this fight because this is our fight.
Equally as we thank the IDB for providing this information – a weapon we can use in our battle for greater equality and to push for global action – we should listen to the advice that goes with it.
The bank suggests improvements to our building code and planning regulations – and particularly an update that would better handle zoning and the risks that go with it.
We need to better consider and more zealously protect ourselves when it comes to land use – there is no point complaining that we suffer from storm damage if we allow buildings to be placed right in the path of a storm surge, or fail to adequately plan for flood plains and so on.
This report is a timely reminder that while we fight the bigger battles on the global stage, there are issues we can deal with right here at home that can help to make a difference.
If we are serious about the larger fight, we must also pay attention to the smaller one.
We must applaud Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe for a good idea – better control of firearms that are legally held.
These can be deadly instruments, as we too often see – but even for legally held ones there is merit in exploring the idea that those who wish to own them ought to be properly trained.
It is also fair to ask that any such weapons are safely secured – for personal safety and to prevent their theft.
It is early in the planning it would seem of such rules, so it may be some time before we see the full details – but anything that makes our society safer is to be applauded. And sensible gun owners ought to support safer practices.