Hoping to weather the storm - Inner-city residents nervous as active hurricane season starts

June 01, 2020
Samuel Bailey’s Tewari Crescent house.
Samuel Bailey’s Tewari Crescent house.
This house in Mt Lebanus in St Thomas was washed away during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
This house in Mt Lebanus in St Thomas was washed away during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Samuel Bailey, 77, of Tewari Crescent in Kingston.
Samuel Bailey, 77, of Tewari Crescent in Kingston.

The 2020 hurricane season starts today, and there are many persons who say that their chances of weathering the storm are very slim. They cite many issues hindering their preparation -- from limited funds to stock on the necessary supplies, to weak housing structures that are not ready for high winds and heavy rainfall that could come if a hurricane bears down on the country.

Forecasters have predicted an above-normal 2020 hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says Jamaica isn't new to hurricanes, but COVID-19 has already been a burden on resources.

"What is new is for us to be approaching the season in a vulnerable state, given the stress that COVID-19 has already placed on our national disaster preparedness infrastructure and our economy," Holness said.

When THE STAR visited some communities across the corporate area last week, residents expressed fear that they may not be able to ride out the storm if Jamaica is hit by a hurricane this year. A 62-year-old resident from Trench Town said that he is left to rebuild after every hurricane season.

Serious damage

"A long time dem house yah build, enuh, so we caa seh we prepared. We nuh have nuh guarantee! Me have serious damage from hurricane already... Roof blow off and everything inside wet up till me caa sleep. Me affi a do nuff cleaning up when hurricane done," he said.

Things are so bad that even regular rainfall leaves him in discomfort. "With regular rain, me have problem inside! If me coulda get some zinc fi change out the zinc dem, or even some tarpaulin, dat woulda nice. After every hurricane, me affi get new roofing," he said.

One Rose Town resident says she is not prepared. Her house is made mostly of zinc and board.

"I never prepared for a hurricane yet. Yuh see how me old house shabby? I just trust God to carry me through the storm because the money nuh strong. Is a rough life ina the ghetto," she said.

Samuel Bailey, 77, of Tewari Crescent, Kingston, has changed out the old zinc on his roof and is doing other things to make life comfortable should a hurricane strike.

"When it rain pon a regular day it leak bad, so me affi prepare meself for the heavier rain," Bailey said.

"I know that the hurricane season is coming up. Even if none no come, when the rain fall it epic! And the house leak, so me affi prepare me self and sort out the roof," Bailey said.

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