Our southerly brothers and sisters need us

  • Trail of destruction: climate change will continue to wreak havoc on small-island communities. Those to our south have been hit hard (Photograph supplied)

    Trail of destruction: climate change will continue to wreak havoc on small-island communities. Those to our south have been hit hard (Photograph supplied)

“A sister in need is a sister indeed.”

One never knows the full meaning of this saying until they themselves are the brother or sister in need.

Over the past week, the world has witnessed the evolution of climate change in the form of Hurricane Irma, a monster of a storm that grew into something that had never been recorded in history.

With sustained winds exceeding 185mph, Hurricane Irma seemed to be something created for a Hollywood disaster movie.

Unfortunately, for most islands of the northern Caribbean, Irma was not science fiction but indeed a fact of science — a fact that demonstrated the fragility of both life and property.

Across the region, many are facing a new reality. Not just a new reality, but a stark new reality.

Realities inclusive of but not limited to the following facts:

• Homes without roofs

• Businesses without stock

• Students without school

• Entire islands without electricity

• Food shortages

• No internet

• No mobile phones

• Roads that no longer exist

Essentially, some islands have been sent back in time by as much as 70 years; perhaps even worse when one factors in homes without doors, windows or roofs.

The most severely affected islands are:

• Anguilla

• Barbuda

• British Virgin Islands

• Saint Martin

• Turks and Caicos

With data connection being almost non-existent, initial pictures of the width of destruction were not readily known. Frantic phone calls to speak to residents and visitors in those respective islands were met with voicemail messages, unanswered e-mails, Facebook inboxes and WhatsApp messages.

The fear and frustration grew by the hour for thousands of concerned relatives around the world, with Facebook pages such as “BVI Abroad Hurricane Irma” becoming a central point of contact for persons to post names, addresses and contact numbers of their loved ones.

With many Bermudians being of Caribbean heritage or having visited islands affected by Hurricane Irma, there is a sense of connectivity with and compassion for those affected.

Whenever a family member is hurting, we tend to hurt as well. The human nature of empathy takes over, causing us immediately to think about how we can assist. The most pressing need for the islands affected is financial donations to respected and responsible helping agencies. Those funds can then be used to purchase food and to provide long-term shelter for those most in need.

Bermudians have always been known to be magnanimous in our giving. Our family in the Caribbean are in desperate need of us to reach into our hearts and pockets. One such way to give assistance is via the BVI government-run site http://hello.pledgeling.com.

With an ever-changing climate, who knows when a monster hurricane will hit Bermuda next? In that eventuality, we would want and need others to reach out to assist us.

Our brothers and sisters to the south of us are relying on us to reach out to assist them.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm

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Published Sep 15, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 14, 2017 at 11:53 pm)

Our southerly brothers and sisters need us

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