home >> united caribbean
CARIBBEAN - disaster prepardness
Natural disasters are costing governments throughout the
world unprecedented amounts of money for relief aid and repairs to property.
Extracts below from Mr Coolymore speech "Managing
Tropical Storms" compliments
"The past year was also marked by a number of floods
and landslides affecting several islands and causing considerable damage
to infrastructure and the social and productive sectors. Barbados, Dominica,
Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago
suffered varying degrees of damage from these hazards. The November mudslides
in Trinidad and Tobago also resulted in the deaths of two (2) persons.
Preliminary assessments and analyses , conducted by ECLAC
and the OECS, estimate the value of damages and losses at more than US
The total losses sustained in Grenada has been estimated
at US $889 million (212% of GDP), Jamaica US $580 (8% of GDP), Bahamas
US $551 million (10% of GDP) and Dominica US $3.3 million (12.5% of GDP).
The impact on the social sectors has been especially substantive.
In the case of Grenada, over 90% of the housing stock was damaged or destroyed,
the agriculture sector was virtually wiped out and tourism, the major
economic engine, suffered extensive damage and disruption. Economic losses
have been estimated at US $481 million in the housing sector, US $37.4
million in the agricultural sector and US $150.4 million in the tourism
The very high level of losses in the social and productive
sectors should raise significant concern. They clearly indicate that our
development interventions are not fully embracing available risk management
practices. These clearly suggest policy and behavioral gaps which are
impatient for attention.
Given the nature of the impact scenario I have just described,
it is essential that the opportunity be taken, by all stakeholders in
disaster management, to examine the realism of our planning, the efficacy
of our response systems and the efficiency and effectiveness of our relief
Integral to the Caribbean’s disaster management
challenges are the large numbers of the population who live in areas prone
to natural disasters; much, however, can be done to minimize property
damages from weather events.
One solution to the problems plaguing the building industry
in the Caribbean region – primarily, vulnerability to the forces
of nature, including hurricanes, earthquakes, termites, rot and fire-
is the utilization of alternative building systems engineered to withstand
nature’s forces. Another issue for homeowners is the cost of insurance,
as insurance costs have sky-rocketed in areas hit by Hurricanes Luis,
Marilyn, Bertha, George and Mitch. As a result of these weather events,
many homeowners have been unable to insure their homes; Ivan will most
likely leave many insurance companies bankrupted.
Upper end homes, with larger budgets for construction,
have been built to withstand some of the forces of nature. Middle income
homes tend to be built to a lesser standard, due to budget constraints,
and therefore, this sector appears to suffer the most damage. Those who
could least afford it, are usually those most seriously impacted by tropical
One solution to the aforementioned challenges, is The
Building System, an alternative housing solution that has been engineered
to withstand hurricanes, and can be used for a broad spectrum of housing
needs, from low-income housing to luxury vacation homes.
Additionally, several insurance companies throughout the
Caribbean have introduced reducing rates for homes that meet engineering
standards for hurricane resistance.
The Building System can be used to build homes at a cost slightly less
than conventional masonry homes built to an equivalent engineering standard
and is insurer- friendly.
As island nations seek to rebuild and protect themselves
from future storms, it is imperative that we analyze existing building
practices and seek solutions to past problems and in this case, The Building
System is an affordable way to achieve these goals. Homeowners will save
money in the short run from reduced insurance premiums and in the long
term, will own a home capable of withstanding hurricanes and earthquakes.
We can envision a future for our islands where a hurricane is simply a
natural phenomena, not a natural disaster.
Hurricane Lenny launched a surprise assault on the entire
Caribbean the third week of November, 1999. In addition to being a late-late
season storm, Lenny defied the prevailing laws of nature by traveling
from west to east. This nimble trickster managed to inflict damage from
Aruba to Puerto Rico, continuing east to Antigua and touching shores as
far down island as Grenada and Barbados. We are pleased to report that
there was no damage to any Building System buildings from Hurricane Lenny.
They have never lost a roof anywhere in the world!
The potential to generate the funds required to enable
the continuation of quality humanitarian efforts along with the establishment
of educational, health and socio-economic sustainable development programmes,
has aligned United Caribbean with a registered Grenada-based company that
is currently seeking growth partnerships and investment allies to introduce
‘The Building System' to the agencies responsible for the reconstruction
and redevelopment of Grenada and other interested territories.