CI Shorts: After the hurricanes, how’s my rebuilding going?
In 2017, the Caribbean experienced some of the most active hurricane seasons since records began in 1851.
Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit asked, while the eyes of the world had been on his island following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, that people did not forget his country in a few months’ time.
Caribbean Intelligence© decided to take a look at how the countries badly hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria are doing at the start of 2018:
- Dominica was hit by Hurricane Maria in September in what many judged to be one of the worse-affected in the 2017 hurricane season. Cruise ships have started returning to the repaired port. Tourism officials say that, in a normal year, cruise ships account for 10% to 25% of the visitors to Dominica, and tourism generates about 20% of GDP.
- Although scaled back, Dominica’s Carnival is taking place. Often hailed as one of the more traditional “authentic” carnivals in the region, Mas Domnik will this year take place on 12-13 February under the theme Celebrating our Traditions! The activities will culminate with a 14 February event at the Taway Vaval in the Kalinago Territory, home to the indigenous Kalinago people.
- In the British Virgin Islands, government has announced a US$1.5m loan and grant programme for businesses. Trade Minister Karia Christopher announced the post-hurricane programme but also warned that there would be a clampdown on the increased number of illegal bars and shops which have opened up since Hurricane Irma. BVI Platinum News reported that, when asked whether this clampdown would lead to fines, Mrs Christopher said that the initial approach would be through education. “I don’t know that we would want to have just any business in every corner because that does not sell well for our tourism industry at all,” she told reporters.
- Princess Cruises has decided to mix pleasure and support by offering some of its cruise passengers to the Caribbean the opportunity to help in the clean-up and rebuilding work in hurricane-affected territories. Its cruise ships will provide spring sailings which will invite passengers to help with beach clean-up work and other shore activities. There’ll also be on-board presentations on hurricane repair.
- While many of us have been looking at repair, resilience and rebuilding, The Spirits Business.com website has been checking out the impact of the 2017 hurricane season on the rum industry. Big name brands such as Captain Morgan reported being back in production after three weeks as the US Virgin Islands-based Beam Suntory’s Cruzan Rum Distillery suffered minimal impact. The website found that bars which sourced rum distilled in Trinidad and Guyana had returned to normal fairly quickly. Bacardi’s giant distillery on Puerto Rico’s north coast produces 80% of all of its rum. Its stocks were not damaged and the distillery was up and running a week after the hurricanes even though its staff on other parts of the territory faced problems travelling to and from work.
- Grenada might not have been hit by the 2017 hurricane season but it is now facing the economic challenges created by the bills from Hurricanes Ivan and Emily of 2004 and 2005. Since that time, Grenada has built schools, healthcare facilities and its infrastructure and the bill for that relief work has, according to humanitarian organisation, the Borgen Project, left the island with a high debt burden.
- Grenada’s new projects include a move to climate-smart agriculture, a safe-smart and green hospital project with a hurricane-resistant roof and an automated electrical backup power system. It is also pinning its future resilience hopes on the Eastern Caribbean’s Geothermal Risk Mitigation Programme. Is it do-able? Grenada’s Prime Minister and current CARICOM Chairman Keith Mitchell had said at the end of 2017 that the predicted rise of climactic events for the Caribbean made such resilience work “the new normal”.
- And finally.....four months of deprivation has caused some major lifestyle changes in Puerto Rico, including how people do their hair. The US territory entered 2018 with 60,000 homes without roofs, 15% of the population without electricity and a hunt for fresh water still a reality for many. So, it’s hardly surprising that hairdressers are reporting that women are asking to have their hair cut short and men are growing their beards longer. The UK Guardian newspaper reported that long, blown-straight hair is not seen as much on the island.
A local performance art theatre group has been staging a show which laughs at the new styles called “messy bun”, the “dirty braid” and “el moja’ito” (the wet one).
ReliefWeb’s 23 January report finds that Dominica was the worst affected during the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria and looks at how resources matched up to the task across the region
Commentary: BVI and the dearth of national planning
Build back better: The Caribbean’s wind of change – Caribbean Intelligence
Streaming live on 30 January - Building Back Better: A resilient Caribbean conference in London