Tag Archives: Survival

Surviving Hurricane Sandy: the Tale, the Scare, the Humour

I survived Hurricane Sandy’s fury. Many of the trees in my yard, a friend’s roof and hundreds of acres of agricultural crops in Eastern Parishes of Jamaica did not, but I did!

So why exactly did I consider this “blog-worthy”? Well, I did it completely on my own. No friends, no family. Just me. I now feel tremendously proud of myself. The fact that the neighbourhood escaped being treated to the sight of a scared, screaming woman running down the streets, suitcase in tow and bible in hand, is an accomplishment. So here’s a toast to me!

Emergency supplies for Hurricane Sandy

Perhaps I should start with giving you the anatomy of the usual response to the threat of a hurricane or storm – at least when in Trinidad!

  • Stage 1 – Denial. During this stage plans for the evening continue, after all the skies are still blue. A visit to any of the famous nightspots eg Smokey & Bunty in St. James (the city that never sleeps), would reveal die-hard patrons enjoying their usual fare and issuing the battle cry – “No storm not coming here cause God is a Trini!”
  • Stage 2 – Realization. During this stage, it suddenly hits everyone that a hurricane or storm might be a looming reality. Usually it is triggered by an announcement that the island is on Storm watch or warning. Chaos ensues. No transportation to go home, traffic jams, empty supermarket shelves, nailing of roofs right up to the point that the storm shows up!
  • Stage 3 – Religious Fervour. The bibles come out. Whether dusty or shiny, they show up. The prayers start in earnest.

    Once in the Caribbean, a necessary tool for survival
  • Stage 4 – Dark skies, a spattering of rain, some winds, orange skies.
  • Stage 5 – More praying.
  • Stage 6 – Rain eases and skies clear. Seems like the storm is going away. Wow God must really be a Trini! Little or no acknowledgment of persons in Tobago who were badly affected or persons in Central who lost roofs to heavy winds or cyclones. All is back to normal.
  • Stage 7 – The Question. To go to work or not to go to work. That is the question.

So much for the Trini experience. My Jamaican experience was different. Jamaica’s location makes it a likely target during the hurricane season and as such the warnings are taken much more seriously. I must commend the Government of Jamaica for their quick pro-active action of immediately closing the airports and calling a curfew. The police were out actively dissuading those who thought it was a lovely time to be out in the streets taking photographs. (Ok, I admit – I was tempted to head outside too!)

A quick scan of Facebook revealed an outpouring of advice, well wishes and prayers. One friend was planning a slumber party while another thought it was the perfect night to sip on Appleton or throw a party. Everything just seemed too quiet or boring. This was Tuesday night.

Wednesday morning dawned with a stillness and cosy feeling of rain against the window panes. What a deceptive feeling. By 11:30am, there was no longer any electricity. The wind was whistling, howling and toppling trees in my yard. It threatened to take a few of my window panes too. Outside the skies grew black. Water started to leak through the roof in places that it never did before and the poor roof was simply struggling to stay put.

I rushed to set up camp in the middle of the flat, things were simply getting too scary. Well I’ve now discovered that one of the best antidotes to this is cooking. I got creative and experimented with the emergency rations. I ended up with curried rice, lentil peas and mango chutney! I’ve named it….“Curry a la Sandy”!

Sandy a la Carte – an experiment with my emergency rations 🙂

Crash! The noise was deafening and I heard a small scream in the distance. I…

To be continued! Stay tuned for Part 2 of Surviving Hurricane Sandy: the Tale, the Scare, the Humour!

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Life gave me lemons…and I sold them!

A struggle for life

Reflections from working with the poor & disadvantaged…

Some days life serves me lemons. They say that I should make lemonade. How do I do that? I can’t afford the sugar and my taps don’t have water. How I hate lemons.

Some days life serves me blows. Life wears itself like a noose adorning my neck. They say I should persevere. How do I do that? I still can’t afford to buy the pair of scissors to cut that noose. How I hate that noose.

Other days life serves me hope. Just a teaspoonful. They don’t say much, for now I am a threat. It seems I might be emerging from that hole…finally…

These days life serves me vision. It overflows my cup. They say absolutely nothing for they are busy. Busy taking away the means to attain the vision. I see lemons on the horizon…again…

One day life served me perspective. A moment of illumination. I no longer hear what they say. It is of no consequence.

I sold the lemons and used the money to buy a pair of scissors. I used the scissors to cut the noose. I used the noose to tie the hope to my new perspective. I used the perspective and realized that while I was being pressed and squeezed, I had emerged onto the other side and am in full bloom.

The noose got their tongues now.

[© Copyrighted material – O. Barrett/Island Vignettes 2012]

I survived the struggle