You’re wrong Mr Rowley.
I just wonder if Opposition Leader Keith Rowley would have preferred to wake up on Saturday morning to images of weeping families, swept away houses and blown off rooftops on his TV.
I had to wonder after reading his comments about what he termed the overreaction of the Office Disaster Preparedness and Management to the storm (Tomas) that was approaching Trinidad and Tobago. In the article Rowley is quoted as saying: We shut the country down because a cloud came up in the east. The country had been shut down since yesterday morning (Friday) and we have over-reacted to a cloud,”
There is a point where communication has to be urgent, necessary and frequent. Friday was one such instance. I am no geologist like Mr Rowley but basic geography 101 tells me that storms like other natural disasters can take a turn for the better or worse. They can pick up speed and slow down, they can exhibit predictable behaviour and they can turn you into a liar. They can be quiet and they can roar, all in an microwave second. Ask the people of Indonesia. Ask the people of Haiti for that matter.
I don’t for a second think that the ODPM nor the Government caused undue panic. They sent out the warnings. They encouraged people to go home. They used social media to keep citizens informed. Of course Mr Rowley I hear your concern and maybe what you meant to say was that the traffic and the congestion that came after the warning pointed to the fact that we don’t have an evacuation plan for the city and we are still too laissez faire about storm warnings, as evinced by the number of people who decided to hit the bars and attend the Halloween parties. These are legitimate concerns and they need to be addressed. But to the point of the ODPM causing undue panic among citizens by shutting the country down unnecessarily, you’re wrong Mr Rowley. Dead Wrong.
In a situation like Friday’s the first thing is to get your communication tactics right (of course this can only be done well once the strategy has been put in place). And while you try to predict the weather patterns of storms and other weird events, what you really need to be exceptional at and here’s where you have some control is to keep people alert and on their toes when something is about to happen.
That’s the ODPM’s role and for once they seemed to get it right.