BY JULIA RAWLINS-BENTHAM
Barbadians are breathing a sigh of relief as a tropical storm warning for Gonzalo was discontinued around 8:00 tonight, Friday, July 24.
And, Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, during a live interview on Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation TV8, declared that it will be business as usual tomorrow, Saturday, July 25.
The Barbados Meteorological Services (MET Office) discontinued the tropical storm warning for the island, noting that on its present path of 310 miles to the south east of Barbados, Tropical Storm Gonzalo no longer posed a threat to the island.
“It means that people’s Saturday is safe …. The average Barbadian, and Barbados can get back on track,” Minister Abrahams stated, noting that there was a lot of pressure on Government to make a decision on the weather system.
However, Mr. Abrahams stands by Government’s decision in preparing the country for the possibility of an impact, noting that there were times when judgement calls needed to be made in the interest of business and safety.
“Safety will always trump other concerns, and the Government will always err on the side of caution when safety is concerned. But equally we have to be realistic and inject some certainty into what we’re doing and not be afraid to make the judgment calls when all the evidence points in a particular direction…,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, he again commended the state of readiness and disaster preparations executed by agencies in anticipation of an impact from the weather system, noting that a lot was done in the area of disaster management and flood mitigation.
The Minister stressed that those preparations were not wasted, nor were they in vain, because had the storm not drifted further south, or had intensified, Barbadians would be “scrambling trying do things”.
However, he admitted that there was still “some little fine tuning” that had to be done, but acknowledged that all departments were well advanced on their disaster management checklists.
He also attributed much of the state of readiness to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said contributed to a “dry run” of health services, hurricane shelters and critical institutions.
“So, the COVID-19 pandemic and the discomfort and dislocation we had from that served a bit of a purpose in preparing us for the hurricane season. All of the things – the food security, the food supplies, the dispersion of critical transport facilities across the island, the filling of water tanks – all of these things were actually done, and in place if the system came,” he noted.
Acting Director of the Barbados MET Office, Sabu Best, advised residents to expect rain from tonight into tomorrow, with the maximum accumulation of rainfall likely to occur between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, July 25.