Making Matters Worse After Hurricane Dorian

By Rogan Smith |
View Comments

There are times when saying nothing is better than being negative, critical and toxic. This is one of those times. 

Bahamians, hoping to wake up from this apocalyptic nightmare, are still trying to figure out how we got here and how we’re going to get out. Sadly, the answer is no time soon. The United Nations believes at least 70,000 people in Abaco and Grand Bahama are today homeless. 

Those at ground zero in Abaco and Grand Bahama have seen death, destruction and despair unlike anything we as a nation have ever witnessed. The closest thing to it was probably the Hurricane of 1932 that killed several Bahamians, including my great-grandfather. 

For days, we have heard horror stories of parents who watched their children die due to Hurricane Dorian’s powerful winds and surges. One resident watched his wife drown before his very eyes and others stumbled upon the bodies of their loved ones after the water subsided. Many have lost all of their earthly possessions.  

Our people are broken physically, emotionally, mentally and financially.

I was pleased to her the Opposition place its politics aside to offer its assistance to the government. I hope they continue to work together.  

I was also grateful for the private citizen who sent airplanes to Marsh Harbour to assist residents stranded on the island. 

However, while we applaud that citizen’s actions, we should not use this moment to shame other private or corporate citizens just because we don’t see what they are doing or have done. Many of them have chosen to give privately with no fanfare.

No Easy Task

The rescue and recovery efforts will not be easy or quick due to our archipelagic nature.

While I do think the government could step up efforts to get the residents off of the islands, we need to appreciate that governments have to think their plans all the way through. It’s not enough to rescue individuals and bring them to the capital. If those individuals don’t have family or financial resources, they will still be homeless and without the proper means to survive. 

But, leaving them on islands surrounded by rotting corpses, no food, water or shelter is not an option. 

We must be mindful that we still need protocol in place as people are known to take advantage during tragedies. 

While there are Bahamians and other residents who have immediately jumped in to help, their work is being disregarded by the critics who can’t seem to find anything positive to say during this trying time. 

A lot of criticism has been levelled towards the prime minister, whom I think is doing an admirable job, considering these extreme circumstances. 

No prime minister in The Bahamas has dealt with a storm of this magnitude. None. This is also a man who is dealing with a personal tragedy after losing his brother. Let’s appreciate that moment for a minute. 

Coordinating efforts with other agencies takes time, particularly international ones. Despite what many think, you cannot just hover over towns and drop food items. It must be properly controlled and coordinated. If not, you could create a potentially chaotic situation. 

Large boats cannot just pull up into the harbor laden with goods. There are large objects in the water that could pose a threat to those navigating those waters. 

We also cannot have scores of planes flying in our airspace at once. That could lead to another tragedy. We need to think things through. 

Disappointed In The Media

You will find no greater defender of the media than me. But, when my colleagues err, I will call them out for it. 

I have found that too many people are trying to be stars off of this tragedy and are hell bent on being sensationalistic for ratings. Firstly, we have no ratings system in this country. Secondly, we do ourselves, our profession and our nation a disservice when we make a decision to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Rather than focusing on bringing Bahamians the latest, most accurate news, several journalists have taken it upon themselves to inject very personal commentary and private opinions into public conversations. 

They find it easier to highlight everything that is wrong rather than giving a balanced view of the circumstances. 

By no means am I urging anyone to coddle the government or other officials. Put tough questions to them. But, there is no need to engage in these “gotcha” moments, like one reporter who asked the prime minister a question only to continue cutting him off as he responded. I pray that younger journalists do not look at this behavior and think it is appropriate, because it’s not. 

I was also disappointed to read other journalists’ social media pages laden with profanity and demands for answers as if they alone deserved direct responses from the government. I have zero respect for petulance and great admiration for professionalism. 

Our job is to tell the story, present the facts and let the people decide for themselves. 

That being said, I applaud those reporters who have left their families and are braving the same conditions as those displaced to bring us the latest news. 

Unsocial Media

Over the past week, I have repeatedly heard people say that that they have had to log off from social media and take an emotional break due to the amount of negativity and ignorance being spewed online. That’s actually a great idea and I completely understand why they have chosen to do so. 

Those who are committed to helping have grown weary of having to battle inaccurate reports or go toe-to-toe with those negative posters who are simply making a bad situation worse. 

They are content to sit back and criticize the very people who are risking their lives to assist their fellow Bahamians. Then there are the body count watchers, who, for some reason, get a kick out of telling people how many people have perished in this disaster. Do you know how distressing that is for the survivors, many of whom still have family members missing? 

One can only imagine the psychological damage inflicted on the survivors, many of whom have lost children, parents, siblings and friends in this storm. Imagine being stuck on an island where you have to pass by decaying bodies and destruction. We have to remain calm, if not for ourselves, for them.  

While not everyone is in a position to financially and physically help in the aftermath, at least make a commitment to being more positive. Take the energy and channel it into good. Share information on drop-off spots for donations. That is more helpful. 

I have a lot to say on this hurricane and the subsequent aftermath and it will be said at the appropriate time. Right now, it’s not appropriate. 

  • SHARE:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *