Warnings not heeded
Despite warnings from the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) to stay indoors during the passage of Tropical Storm Matthew, several residents of St George braved the severe weather system to venture outside.
Barbados TODAY caught up with some business owners who admitted they were open from early yesterday morning, even though a national shutdown had been ordered.
Shopkeeper Melanie King opened her doors to the public at 8:30 a.m. and said that many residents turned up despite the heavy showers.
“Out here was full of people. Everybody just came out to relax, and we kept the radio on so we listened to the broadcast and everything was good . . . . The rain didn’t stop anybody, everybody just with their umbrella and just out,” she said.
King, who worked until 10 p.m., observed that while locals sought to prepare themselves by buying canned foods and other necessities, many Barbadians seemed nonchalant about the storm threat.
“They are very laid back – ‘oh, it’s not going to affect us, it’s going to pass, it always [does]’ – but one of these days it’s going to catch them by surprise,” the native of Guyana said.
The Full Pitch Bar in the Glebe was also well patronized. Cook Junior Pilgrim said business went well during the storm, as he finished around 10 p.m.
“A lot of people come out,” said Pilgrim, noting that a crowd had congregated around closing.
Another resident, Clyde Waithe explained that he initially followed the instructions of the authorities, but later left home as he “was tired of the house”.
He shared that he felt Tropical Storm Matthew was God’s intervention, as it provided water for areas in St John and St Joseph where residents’ taps had been dry for months.
“We had a low water level the past three to four years, so if rain got to fall for us to get water in our reservoirs, I ain’t see no problem with that. I wouldn’t mind if another five or six inches fall. The people in St Joseph would be able to get water,” Waithe said.
Good Intent resident Andrew Greene told Barbados TODAY that as far as he saw, people in the district did not take the threat seriously.
“Nobody didn’t really talking about no storm. Everybody was playing dominoes and cards and everything as usual,” he said.
“About ten times people did run into the supermarkets, that I know in my history, and buy up everything, buying out the supermarket, and no event didn’t happen, so that is now the attitude.”
Eudene Jackman, who experienced the trauma of Hurricane Janet in 1955, said the winds of Tropical Storm Matthew were miniscule in comparison. But she commended local authorities for their quick and constant communication with citizens throughout the storm.
“I believe that the warning was very effective because people are beginning to listen to the radio and get themselves prepared, and preparation is a success to anything. They were obviously prepared to confront whatever was going on,” she said.
However, her major concern was those defiant persons who disregarded the warnings from the authorities to remain indoors.
“The people of Barbados need to take into consideration when they hear the authorities are telling them to keep off the road, it is not only for other people’s safety but it’s for their safety as well,” she advised.