Hurricane Matthew: Personal images of Jamaica’s slight brush with danger

This time last week, Jamaicans were being told to prepare for a possible category 4 or 5 hurricane. It never hit us directly, though we were touched by its edges; those in the east and south on lower levels got plenty of impact from sea surges and flooding from rain. As I write, Haiti is counting its dead from a direct hit over the past two days–the number has gone past a staggering 800 people. The Bahamas is cleaning damage, but so far no deaths reported. Florida is facing the storm now, and states to the north, especially South Carolina and Georgia are braced.

Given what I’ve seen from elsewhere, my heart is easy with the knowledge of how fortunate we’ve been. But, I remain prepared as new weather systems form during the hurricane season, which has several weeks still to run. In that vein, I pick a few pictures and videos to remind me of what we passed through.​

The beginning, we thought:

Protective measures

Vendors strap down against the wind

Clouds looming in the morning sky

Hatches battened down and shutters in place

The sunset sky, Saturday night, ahead of Matthew’s expected arrival–Hurricane on its way, most people thought
One of forecasts pointing to the shift away from Jamaica

Flash thunderstorm midweek after Matthew passed

October 6: Boys, near Kingston Harbour, alongside garbage washed down in flooding the week before
 

Rain came suddenly on October 6, while Matthew was lashing The Bahamas and Haiti

Unbelievable light evening traffic, Tuesday October 4; Barbican

Time to open shutters and windows, October 5

Tuesday midmorning and the sky looks clearer
 

Taking a chance on a dawn walk on Monday, while still expecting Matthew

Machew! A man or a mouse? Grateful that you passed quietly…Jamaican women have their say about that :)

Today, we have the good grace to be looking at the back of Matthew, a hurricane that kept us waiting, forced us to clean up or act, exposed the stubbornness of some, and tested the organizational and communications skills of our government and its support services in the area of disaster preparedness. I think they can take high marks for doing many things with clarity and decisiveness, and also a certain willingness to face up the some clear weaknesses in how our local and national lives are lived. I noted that Jamaica needs many conversations about social responsibility & how just doing ‘what’s good for me’ is not community spirited. Our national motto is ‘Out of many, one people’, but you would be naive to believe that ours is a unified country. I’m not going to talk about political tribalism, but just the fact that during the midst of a time when the nation was supposed to be focused on our collective survival against an act of nature, we had robberies and murders still going on. That disconnection is not trivial. 

I am grateful that all I may need to do today is put my home back in order, not clearing away damage and helping others do same.

We were barely tested by the hurricane, but the heavy shower we had on Saturday showed many public service weaknesses that MUST be addressed quickly AND consistently.

Let me leave the serious stuff there.

Yesterday, however, we saw what diversion means in the age of social media. We know that people share jokes online, and take friendly jabs at each other. But, it’s rare to have a game going on, online. Yesterday, one of our media celebrities tried that, successfully, I think. It was a kind of ABC game.

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Many people got in it, and it kept them amused for a good while.

The other thing I noticed, again, is how women were taking a swipe at this hapless ‘guy’. I think the comments all speak for themselves. Jamaican women, including the Leader of the Opposition, had varying views about whether (Hurricane) Matthew could hold their interest, or hold up in any way at all.

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