Jamaicans at home and abroad heaved a collective sigh of relief when Hurricane Matthew bypassed the island a few weeks ago. We had been preparing for a direct hit, but fortunately we did not have to test our level of preparedness for a category 4 hurricane.
But while we have had a run of luck over several years as far as hurricanes making land are concerned, we cannot grow complacent, especially since scores of our communities are prone to flooding. We have to ensure that we take steps to prevent loss of life and destruction to property. Of course, our usual response whenever a hurricane threatens is to batten down the hatches, stock up on food and water and clean drains and gullies. But are these precautionary measures enough? Should we not also push for a frank national discussion on mandatory evacuations? Let’s face it, the time has come for us to consider what is important in the face of impending danger: The rights and liberties of individuals or the common good? I believe that the Government has a responsibility to not only help citizens recover from disasters, but also to take decisive steps to remove them from dangerous situations. We need to put laws on the table to remove people out of harm’s way.
Let’s start the discussions on mandatory evacuations.
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