Our heads still reeling from the upheaval occasioned by the explosive eruptions of La Soufriere in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vincentians are now bracing themselves for Tropical Storm Elsa, whose effects we are supposed to feel today.
We, of course, cannot stay the hand of nature. Hurricanes, eruptions, earthquakes, pandemics, droughts; they have a calendar that is independent of us. Sometimes of course we have the great fortune of going through huge swathes of times untouched by such events. And certainly, the cluster of disasters that we have recently experienced is particularly rare. But although we cannot control the calendar of disaster, how we respond to these calamities remains within our control.
In the face of this coming storm then, three things should provide us with confidence in our ability to navigate the rough seas ahead. First, we have never been better prepared for these kinds of emergencies. Our severely stressed National Emergency Management Organization has played, and is continuing to play, a Herculean role in providing us with all the information we need to make wise decisions and manage the challenges ahead. The claim that knowledge is power has never been truer. We have stockpiled critical supplies which, if needed, would help to reduce the suffering natural disasters impose upon our people. And we also have the personnel trained and ready to spring into action should their services be called upon. Our preparation is therefore the first plank in our survival platform designed to take us past the rough waters ahead.
Second, Vincentians have been tested – perhaps more so than any other people in the Caribbean in recent times. And again, and again we have survived every test. Our resilience is second to none. We know how to cope when food supply pipelines are blocked and when there is no water and electricity. We know how to come together in times of crises and support each other. We are by no means perfect. No one is. But collectively, our psychological strength will allow us to prevail. We will not break. We have survived these tests before. We will do so again.
Third, the vast majority of Vincentian do subscribe to the lines of our anthem, “What e’er the future brings, our faith will see us through.” We by no means all share the same faith. We are a society of many faiths. But central to all of this is the hope that a power greater than us bestows his benevolence on us all, particularly in our times of greatest need. That is our one faith. And so, we sing with pride to the tune of Rasum, “Fight On.” That is what we do. And that is what we will continue to do even as the storms roar around us. And when the storm is over and the calm returns, we will be there, perhaps a little bit wearier, but standing strong, again.