Remember all those infomercials and booklets listing the essentials for a natural disaster?
Well, I do. But note the keyword – remember.
Sure, I remember when our government puts us on storm warning, some tropical depression barrelling towards the island with enough rain to drown your cow. Sure, I remember when it’s predicted that Hurricane Hyacinth or Gwendoline is angrily churning her way with all the wind speed to throw you clear across the Atlantic.
I need to get things, right? You know, things like bottled water, canned foods, flashlights, batteries, candles, matches, first aid kits, etc.
But wait, I’m in Trinidad and Tobago, where everything has our own unique style – food, art, women. So forget all that. This is preparing for a natural disaster, Trini style.
Let’s Go Back 2 Decades
Maybe around 2000, I’m not quite sure the exact year.
I was working as a data entry clerk one morning in San Juan, Trinidad, tapping away on the keyboard, trying to add more cents to my fortnightly earnings (I made 13 for every record entered – that’s right, you read correctly, 13 cents… the very start of my career).
Then it came over the radio. “Trinidad and Tobago now under tropical storm warning. All businesses and schools are to close midday so citizens can get prepared. Everyone, go home. Be safe and God bless.”
“Ge, did you hear that?” my co-worker asked me with a knock on my shoulder.
I swivelled in my chair. Actually, I hadn’t heard, being more interested in rap music than regional news. “Hey, I’m trying to make another 13 cents here,” I said.
“Boss is sending us home,” said co-worker. “Big storm’s coming.”
“Really?” I looked at my watch. It was only minutes to 12. “But it’s so early. What should we do?”
“Head up town by the usual spot for some beers.”
“Sure,” I said, picking up my things and exiting into watery sunlight of a cloudy day. 13 cents be damned. Oh, and that tropical storm too.
We drank until the sun arced down. And we weren’t alone, for in the capital city Port of Spain, on Independence Square, the street was packed with citizens laughing and drinking, nothing but cold beers and exaggerated stories. I probably got home about 8 in the night, not like anybody called to ask if I was crazy or anything.
As for that storm. What storm? I didn’t see any rain. Turns out it deterred, lost strength and passed by Trinidad and Tobago with only some outside band leaving floods for the flood prone.
I’m guessing the same thing happened years prior in previous generations…
and Fast Forward to a Storm Warning of 2022
Is exactly what happened now.
Except I didn’t go into town, being two decades older with a son, a dog(s), and a household(s) to manage. When Trinidad and Tobago was declared under Tropical Storm warning in June, all schools and businesses closed midday, I thought, maybe I should get a bottle of water or something.
So I stopped by the grocery on my way home (mind you I stayed in work till 3pm or so). Water was a hot product – people were buying them up by the cases. But you know what else were hot products: potato chips, corn curls, cookies, 2 litre Coca Cola. Because we weren’t preparing for a powerful storm.
We were preparing for a cosy night of movies and chill.
What’s this about a storm? Well I’ll just relax at home, watch some tv. Not like the power’s going anywhere. Stream some movies too. Not like the Internet’s going anywhere either. This ain’t no Greater Antilles.
On the other side of things, bars were pumping, drink specials and happy hour well into the night. If any rain falls, just come inside and shelter and keep drinking.
As for that storm. What storm? Oh, that. It deterred, lost strength. Happens every time. As they say, God is a Trini.
And if one day, an exponential number of years in the future, that disaster does hit (God forbid), and Hurricane LookBacchanal slams into Trinidad and Tobago, hopefully we’re all prepared with more than just crates of toilet paper and a full tank of gas.
Or maybe we could just have a wet fete, “Rain Fuh So” featuring live performances, the last greatest show on it. I imagine a soca artist walking on the stage that final night. “Well Trinidad,” he’d say, “we had a nice run. Heh Haaa! Look Disastaaa!” while a mass crowd jumps and waves rags higher than food prices.
Heck, no shame in saying I might even be there, convinced by a friend whose motto these days seems to be, “We have to enjoy we life!” haha.
But I thank God that’s not this year, and I pray none of us ever experience it in my lovely island of Trinidad and Tobago, where the sun is warm and the music sweet, and an opportunity to fete is never wasted.
Were you prepared for the latest tropical storm warning? Let me know.