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“You tell me to forget … I hope you understand that I will never forgive you … all right, I say I will go.” — Exerpts from Gabby’s Emmerton.

Sandy is a wake-up call, but will it fall on deaf ears?

No single column or media can aptly describe the havoc and agony which Hurricane Sandy created all along the North Eastern coast of the United States and elsewhere. Indeed, it is kind of happenstance that speaks to the universality of life experiences, the inter-connectedness of the world and the increasing importance of innovative thinking.

I therefore choose to reflect and learn from the experience knowing that for some, things will get tougher before they get better, and, at best, we can only wish everyone well, and help where we can.

Over the next few months, many persons may have to leave the place of birth, some against their will, especially if a decision is made to build a sea wall. It is therefore not beyond the imagination that some of the people of the east coast of NJ could honestly gather along the Board Walk, and, sing Dr. Anthony Carter’s song Emmerton.

Maybe, we will now see the genius of the Gabby and the foresight of James Husbands. Without doubt the UWI got it right.

We were warned. The forecasts were spot on. And the public generally followed instructions, yet Governor Cuomo said: “I saw two rivers approaching from two different directions.” And CNBC’s Brian Williams now wonders if new shoreline rules will have to be written.

Listening to the radio when the power was gone, the voice of a child describes the trauma this way:

“I saw a few drops of water on my window. Before I moved, our basement was a waterfall.”

Truth be told Sandy spawned in the Caribbean, followed a predicted path and when its mass – some 900 miles in diameter – reached the US east coast, the climate variables of moisture, temperature and pressure aligned themselves and gave an unforgettable lesson as to power of cooperation and what it means to think outside the box.

The reality was clearly different from the expectations of most. And as one searched for answers, the disaster raised the importance of knowing the history of past weather patterns, and the natural structures that enable the flow of water.

Every hurricane season, for now, hurricanes seem to be kind to us, but that does not alter the fact that in the name of progress we have built levies with every highway and housing development that intersected the waterways of yesteryear.

While levies can direct the flow of water ways, when additional water comes, as with a surge, the excess is dumped everywhere. I don’t have to remind Barbadians that in 1970 a Barbadian drowned in Queen’s Park.

In Atlanta, when an application is made to get permission to build a house, it is the history of the area that determines what drainage requirements are attached to the permit.

Maybe, Sandy is also making a case for the development of a cadre of Caribbean Emergency Engineers like those in the US Army.

Ultimately, it was the sea water that came into town with windforce and created havoc. Ironically, it was trilogy – not Gabby, Gryner, and Grant – that left a trail of sand, salt, surf and all cross the city.

So Sandy I will never ever, ever, forget, that you lick up dee Eastern shore, but I give thanks, that yon gone yuh way, Lord, I can’t take it no more. Thank you Gabby for Emmerton.

— Walter Edey (New York)

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