Home / Wellness / Environment / Dear Editor: Effective inclement weather policies will address inconsistent national responses and save lives

Dear Editor: Effective inclement weather policies will address inconsistent national responses and save lives

“[…] If it was unsafe for schools to stay open, why were the non-essential businesses allowed to stay open with the workers exposed to the same risk?

“[…] We must consider whether these weather alerts are reaching the population—especially in rural areas—and are they being understood? […]”

The following Letter to the Editor on the perceived need for “inclement weather policies” in Trinidad and Tobago was submitted to Wired868 by Leisha S Dhoray MBA, BSc, ABE, PMP:

Photo: Students walk through flood water outside City Gate in Port of Spain.
(Copyright Flickr)

The heavy rainfall, severe flooding and mass chaos that took place in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday and Thursday of this week should make it abundantly clear that proper policies need to be put in place to deal with inclement weather.

At the top of the list, we need a proper policy for the closure of schools and businesses. The announcement made by the Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly shortly after 7am on Thursday that all schools would be closed for the day, showed a genuine lack of consideration and foresight.

Several students, parents and teachers would have already put themselves at risk by bracing the harsh weather to reach to school. Closing the schools forced them to return home in the inclement weather, and exposed them to even more risk. It might have been safer to allow those who were already in school, to stay in school by keeping the schools open.

It begs the question, if it was unsafe for schools to stay open, why were the non-essential businesses allowed to stay open with the workers exposed to the same risk?

Photo: Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.
(Copyright TTPS)

Having online education and work from home policies for inclement weather would have prevented a loss of productivity, while safeguarding our students, parents, teachers and workers. However, with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley commenting at a post-budget media conference a few weeks ago, “we’re not ready for a major work-from-home policy because some people not even working in the office”, it seems dubious that T&T will be implementing a work-from-home policy in the near future.

Proactive communication policies are also a must. It was devastating to hear that a 44 year old woman, Ms Theresa Lynch, lost her life when she fell into, and got washed away by a flooded river in Lopinot on Wednesday morning. It is extremely unfortunate that the severity of the Adverse Weather Alert which was in place from Wednesday to Friday did not hit home for Ms Lynch, as it clearly stated: Do not wade or drive through flood waters.”.

We must consider whether these weather alerts are reaching the population—especially in rural areas—and are they being understood? If regular advisories were broadcast on mass media on Wednesday and Thursday, they would have certainly helped to protect people and property during the inclement weather, and maybe Ms Lynch would still be with us today.

Photo: Residents move through the flooded Greenvale community in 2018.
(Copyright Annalicia Caruth/ Wired868)

T&T must face the challenges which climate change has brought to our shores head on, by implementing effective inclement weather policies promptly!

The heavy rainfall, severe flooding, and unprecedented property damages and loss of life experienced this week must serve as our wakeup call.

About Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
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