Letters to the Editor

Make evacuation a must

Friday, October 26, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

One is understanding of the economic percussive which supposedly underpins the decisions of many of my fellow Jamaicans to build houses near areas of parlous uncertainty. It goes without saying that owning a house, and more important, having a provision for shelter for one's family is of prime importance, especially for those of us who occupy the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder, but these imperatives, however convincing, cannot usurp the importance of life preservation.

With the recent passage of Hurricane Sandy, we are again left to examine the damage done to infrastructure and more regrettably, the loss of not merely livelihood, but also life. The routine of having to pick up the pieces after another tropical disaster is not divorced from the routine of having to watch structures called homes by many, precariously perched on cliff edges, banks of surging rivers or on the fringes of water-transformed gullies, being left to the mercy of marauding waters.

With the recent passage of Hurricane Sandy, we are again left to examine the damage done to infrastructure and more regrettably, the loss of not merely livelihood, but also life. The routine of having to pick up the pieces after another tropical disaster is not divorced from the routine of having to watch structures called homes by many, precariously perched on cliff edges, banks of surging rivers or on the fringes of water-transformed gullies, being left to the mercy of marauding waters.

The building of houses and other such structures in flood-prone and other such areas is standard practice in Jamaica, never mind the myriad warnings, building regulations and the threat to life and property, with acts of building being married to an unwillingness to relocate, especially in the hurricane season. It goes without saying that it seems that some citizens are indeed engaging in the well-ingrained act of being penny wise and pound foolish, for the loss of property whether to the waters or to the unscrupulous, cannot measure up to imperilling one's own existence.

It is with this in mind that the call is made for the consideration of appropriate legislation which would allow for the mandatory evacuation of citizens who reside in areas which are vulnerable to flooding and which may lead to loss of life. Enacting such legislation should allow for mass evacuation if it is deemed favourable to the preservation of life, also, clauses must of course address the issue of property protection or removal to the greatest degree possible.

Noel Matherson

noelmatherson@gmail.com

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