Barbados not prepared for anything like Irma – warns Ward

Barbados has been lucky not to have experienced a major hurricane since David in 1979.

And with Irma, the tenth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season and a category five cyclone, leaving a trail of death and destruction in the Lesser Antilles, a top regional disaster management consultant is warning that this island would not have been able to withstand such wrath.

Roy Ward

Roy Ward, who previously advised government on disaster management, said while Barbados may be able to survive structurally, it would suffer substantial infrastructural damage were it to encounter a system of Irma’s intensity.

However, Ward lamented that the country as a whole was still not taking disaster preparedness seriously and that many were either not heeding nature’s warnings or preparing for the likelihood of such natural disasters.

“A true lesson is finding a way to not let people build houses in flood zones.  A true lesson is not allowing people to build within a hundred feet of a shoreline.  That is still going on and until those things change we will still have damage,” he cautioned.

“If you allow people to build houses in a flood zone and you get seven or eight inches of rain and you get flash flooding, the water comes through the front door, goes out the back door and takes the occupants with it,” he added while suggesting that the onus was on Government to ensure that residents did not construct homes in  flood zones.

In recent years, the island has seen an increase in construction, particularly of multi-million dollar villas and other buildings along the island’s coastline.

However, the disaster consultant is warning that had Irma hit Barbados in the way that it impacted the northern Caribbean between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the result would have been catastrophic.

“It would have put at least 15 feet of salt water through the front door and drowned the individuals living inside. Whose fault is that?  Government because they allowed individuals to build along the shoreline.  That needs to stop.

“The only way that you can reduce damage is by not putting yourself in a position where you will get damage.  That is a lesson that still have not been learnt.

“The Andrews, the Gilberts . . . all of these storms that have had serious shoreline damage as a direct result of Government, of planning, of urban development . . . allowing these buildings to be put within a hundred feet of the shoreline and until you move them, you will always have damage.  That is a lesson to be learnt,” Ward told Barbados TODAY.

In the wake of Irma, he further warned Barbadians not to take the work of the local met office for granted or to fall into the trap of believing that a major disaster “is not going to happen here.”

He lamented that there were “many armchair emergency specialists sitting behind desks and playing with weather services off the Internet”, saying “no one is ever sure who is right or wrong.

“Unfortunately, that is when you get problems because you have people who are accessing similar data to what the weather service has and making their own position and opinion as to what should be done. This causes conflict. . . and the interpretation of an amateur versus the interpretation of a professional causes the problem,” he said, while stressing that this is one of the things that the Caribbean needs to fix.

22 Responses to Barbados not prepared for anything like Irma – warns Ward

  1. Yvette Fenty
    Yvette Fenty September 6, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    So true…we need to get ourselves prepared

    • John Everatt September 6, 2017 at 11:28 pm

      I agree. But when you have people who are politically appointed to oversee this sort of thing then what do you expect?

  2. Alison Branch
    Alison Branch September 6, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Yah think???

  3. Doran Morris
    Doran Morris September 6, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Bdos prepared for some thing like Irma Fail

    • Andrena Ceasar
      Andrena Ceasar September 6, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      no one can really prepare for something like this

  4. Jan Gibson
    Jan Gibson September 6, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    How does anyone prepare for a hurricane like Irma. One just have to be prepared mentally to live the harsh conditions which they will face after the hurricane. Evacuate from flood areas way ahead of the storm.

  5. Saga Boy September 7, 2017 at 2:32 am

    How do you prepare for a hurricane like Irma? Do you change the housing stock to withstand speeds of over 185 mph? Not even the great USA is prepared.

  6. jrsmith September 7, 2017 at 5:07 am

    This is nature in its true form , barbados couldn’t even handle seed weed on beaches…….We are ever so lucky ……….., this is because of the land mass and where we sit on the map…….
    I am happy to see our island escaped , just think barbados getting hit and having to deal with our politicians , end of the world ……..

  7. jrsmith September 7, 2017 at 5:14 am

    To all our regional people who have been hit by this disaster,my family and I sends our sympathy ,, as I am still living in the UK , is there some place where my family and I could donate clothing and whatever……………………………………….

  8. Jennifer September 7, 2017 at 5:21 am

    One of our problems is that Barbados is still in the dependency stage. And our politicians like it so.

  9. harry turnover September 7, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Mr.Ward ,this IS A POWERFUL CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE and NO ONE CAN PREPARE for something like that,so don’t try to be an Einstein .
    What I do agree with is that people ESPECIALLY those in a particular electronic media who may have easier access to other electronic media believing they are experts just by looking at PICTURES and sometimes saying that they have ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY ….lord have mercy.
    Readers should know that ALL that they are seeing and more can be obtained from the internet and not from any advanced technology that only they think they have access to.
    Meteorologists could tell you that long before Harvey was named the path from the time it was a Tropical wave was known,the same with Irma and Jose and the disturbance coming off the African Coast right now.

  10. Robbie LASH September 7, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Harry, so true.

  11. milli watt September 7, 2017 at 10:23 am

    prepared…………this lousy crowd dat always talking bout god is a bajan. wuh miss yuh ain’t pass yuh. ONE DAY COMING SOON AND WE GOIN SEE WHO IS DE BAD MAN BOUT HERE

  12. Jennifer September 7, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Anguilla was just pledged 12 million pounds from Britain for support of infrastructure etc. A royal navy ship carrying marines and army engineers have been also dispatched.

    • tedd September 7, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      Anguilla is a British colony and the aide available is one of the perks of being a colony. Barbados can not expect the same generosity if we were in that boat as we are an independent nation.

  13. Ashanti September 7, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Barbados nor the world can be preparaed we need to clean up our act before it is to late and it may come sooner than later.

  14. Roger Headley September 7, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Tortola, like Anguilla is still a dependent so they should be getting help soon as well. France will help St Martin and Holland will help St. Maarten. Sometimes being a dependent have privileges especially when you political leaders as such crooks

    • Jennifer September 7, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      @Roger – Bang on. My points exactly.

    • tedd September 7, 2017 at 4:25 pm


  15. harry turnover September 7, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Being Independent means the Government controls the Public Purse….they don’t have to account to a fella…put yard fowls and paling cocks in place and ya gone clear.
    Bdos has steadily gone DOWNHILL since Independence and people praising Barrow for that.

    • Emerald December 5, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      Its true. If we were not independant we would not have any of the problems we have now. Especially the pot holes!!

  16. ch September 10, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Sound building codes and insurance need to be enforced- true. But nothing can withstand a category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 185 mph.


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