At the height of Monday's flooding disaster in Maraval an overseas friend who commented why don't we declare a State of Emergency and who was very surprised when we told her that we were already under a State of Emergency asked (jokingly) what was the next step up?
Sometimes we really do need to laugh in this place, for what she exposed was the reality of the situation, where the thing that was designed to deal with something other than what it was used for now seemed powerless to deal with what it was intended for. In answer to her question others chimed in and made suggestions of different 'States' we could 'declare.' Someone suggested a 'State of Calamity' to describe the lack of clear evacuation routes and early response, someone else offered a 'State of Catastrophe' based on the absence of plans to which the people could turn to when order gave way to chaos. Another suggested a 'State of Stupidity' because the disaster we were dealing with was all of our making (which may very well have been our starting position in the first place), while a 'State of Indecency' was offered to describe the grandstanding by politicians from both sides of the yawning divide who chose instead to take advantage of the suffering for shameless self promotion. A 'State of Uncertainty' was suggested to describe the same politicians when asked questions as to cause and possible solutions, as was a 'State of Confusion.'
Looking on as one system after another failed at protecting the public from an afternoon shower I could not help but feel a little ashamed, having been privy to suggestions, plans and policies that could have prevented this if implemented years ago. If Saturdays downpour and flash floods were a joke, Monday was the punch line. At the entrance to Maraval (and as if to announce what was about to happen), the newly constructed Country Club wall collapsed early on, making a fortune teller of that organization's engineer who foretold of its collapse based on poor design, paucity of structural steel and the lack of weep holes to prevent what occurred from happening.
The Minister responsible for Town & Country Planning said that it could not do its job as currently configured, which of course begs the question as to why anyone is paid to work there. The political misdirection employed in these situations required the announcement of the drafting of 'new' legislation, 'this time with teeth,' as the old one apparently stopped at gums.
The Minister of Legal Affairs mistakenly donned his Political leader's hat for the day and 'waded in' to help with the clean up, when he should really have been sharpening his Ministerial pen to go after those who brought this preventable tragedy upon us in the first place.
The Minster of Works was hard pressed to explain why nothing worked, and the Prime Minister herself promised that things would be put in place to prevent this from re-occurring, eerily similar to the same promise she made last year in Central when the same thing occurred.. The Leader of The Opposition was aghast that nothing seemed to work, but one would think that he should be accustomed to this having himself been the Minister responsible for the non functioning Ministry of Planning in the recent past.
Beset on all sides by law breakers, deal makers, opportunity takers, and a coalition of the bungling and the inept in public office, this was always going to be where we ended up. Regardless of what Mother Nature throws at us our first response is always going to be a joke, because between Saturday's preview and Monday's catastrophe nothing changed, nothing new was put in place and no one was made to account. No cancellation of leave, no evacuation plans and emergency shelters were advertised, no resources deployed to suspected trouble spots despite the forecast of coming bad weather. Now that we've had Monday to demonstrate how quickly things could go awry whether we prepare for it or not, surely the people of this country must be anxious to find leaders and public employees who are able function at levels higher than what we witnessed this weekend. In answer to my friend's question, if this is not a 'State of Absurdity' then surely we're close.