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Between Life and Destruction

Water is life. Water is destruction. Whatever it may be, we can’t always control it.

On Christmas day, my family and I went to mass at the beautiful Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Castries, St. Lucia, an architectural gem enriched by Caribbean and African influences.

Sadly, only a handful of people attended the celebration.

This was not because there was a drop in the number of faithful. This joyful event did not see the expected participation because on Christmas Eve, the island was hit by an unpredicted storm system that left behind death and destruction. Water and power supplies were disrupted. Hewanorra International Airport had to be closed for a few days. The infrastructural damage in some parts of the island was comparable to the one brought by the vicious Hurricane Tomas in 2010.

Between 200 and 400 millimeters of rain were recorded in some areas. To add insult to injury, it seems that the Meteorological Services during those days (both in St. Lucia and in the neighboring island of Martinique) was not functioning adequately, greatly affecting the prediction capability.

Allergic to climate change? Check this out: notwithstanding the limited prediction capability, the storm was not “on the map”, since the hurricane season officially ended a month ago. In other words: this event was not expected.

The beautiful Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Castries during Christmas night was transformed in a shelter. The morning sermon, heard by the few wet attendees, reminded us that water is life indeed. But as precious as it can be, it can also bring about suffering and destruction.

And so it seems that we are losing the ability to control which one is ahead of us. This is worrisome and scary, as in many parts of the world this has already become a matter of survival. Here in the Caribbean, how can we keep up our faith in the international community to take action to mitigate and adapt to climate change when we are already, slowly but steadily, going under water?

Will the Grinch bring more floods next Christmas?

Marcello Basani is a Water and Sanitation Specialist based in Guyana at IDB’s Georgetown Office.

The Spanish version is published on the IDB blog, Volvamos a la fuente

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