Understanding the Law
January 3, 2014
Two significant occurrences in 2013

The Christmas tragedy of 2013 must have been the most talked about occurrence for the year and will be the subject of conversation for many years to come. A trough was forecast, but no one expected the intensity of the storm that dumped heavy rains on SVG. The rain started coming on Christmas Eve night 2013 and continued into Christmas morning, churning waters into a raging flood that broke the riverbanks and swept away bridges and houses. The angry floodwaters struck with vengeance, shattering lives and property.{{more}} Persons spoke about the continuous lightning, which merged one, into the other, across the night sky. These were the signs of the numerous rain clouds that were clashing and banging over the mountains and valleys. Landslides occurred because the rain soaked earth could not take the strain of the waters. When it ended, nine persons were dead and four are still missing. It was a sad Christmas for Vincentians at home, as well as abroad. My sympathy goes out to the families who lost loved ones.

This storm cannot be viewed as a freak storm. There was a severe rainstorm in April 2011, where heavy rains caused the rivers in north east SVG to burst their banks. The damage was extensive. The damage done to Georgetown is memorialized in the calypso line “Georgetown mash up, mash up.” Less than three years after, another rainstorm has caused severe damage, on a wider scale.

This means that we have to pay more attention to preparation for floods, as we do with hurricanes. I could only call attention to these areas of interest, but we expect the experts to tell us more. We now know of the perils of living close to rivers and we know that rivers could burst their banks and destroy buildings and take human life. For prospective homeowners, we need to anchor our houses with solid foundations and be reminded of areas that are prone to slippages and landslides. We have to remember that garbage thrown into rivers could constitute hazards when the river is swollen.

People must be applauded for coming out in their numbers to help those who suffered in the storm. I wish that this spirit could be preserved throughout the year 2014 and years to come. I know that people are concerned about making a living and getting along in a difficult world, but I believe that they can still find the time to smile or to greet others and find happiness in doing so.

One important event in 2013 for the Catholic Church was the election of Pope Francis, who is well known for his moderation and tolerance. How refreshing to have a pope washing the feet of the homeless, taking children into his arms, serving the poor, denouncing the idolatry of money, showing qualities of tenderness, mercy and compassion, and saying that he would not judge others. He is capable of more and I believe that when his work is done, he would have everyone paying attention to their fellowmen and not waiting to know them when they get to heaven. People all over are raving about the pope; he is the people’s pope; Time magazine hailed him the person of the year. When he greeted the people for the first time from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, he asked them to pray for him. These few simple words of humility have touched many people.

Let us all follow in the footsteps of the Pope and reach out to others this new year. Keep up the same spirit you had after the storms and have a happy and productive new year.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]