~ Learning about natural disasters with Wali ~

Authors: Dr. Fadi Issa, Dr. Colin Michie, Wali and the AUC Students 

It’s summertime! Many people are enjoying holidays in St. Martin and there is no school for iguanas. Hot weather is great for me and my friends – we can climb or run really quickly across the roads. This season also brings storms, like Irma, the dangerous hurricane in 2017. 

Wali has lots of questions for the medical students: Will there be another storm? What can we do? Lizards can hide under a rock and try to stay safe, but what about all of you our readers?

Children are the centre of their communities. You can prepare together for disasters like storms. If you help your family and friends cope, you can replace fears with actions. You can be a first responder!

Wow! Wali thinks this is amazing! You are seriously important! Young people are really powerful in disasters as they are more confident, positive and show leadership. Some disasters are caused by the natural environment or the weather; others by people, diseases or accidents.

In St. Martin, we all talk about hurricanes, but we could suffer from an earthquake or a tsunami, or with floods and landslides too. Even in heavy rains, we lizards seem to end up swimming a lot!

A hurricane is a severe tropical storm that starts out at sea. It brings heavy rain, strong winds (over 74 miles an hour) and large waves or storm surge.

These can damage trees, cars, ships and buildings. We are in hurricane season now! Satellite pictures help you – not Wali – know if one of those twisting nasties is coming. 

The word “hurricane” is Caribbean. Taino tribes, who were here before Columbus, named them huraca’n (‘hura’ for wind, ‘ca’n’ for centre). Nowadays, hurricanes are given names so we all know which one we are worried about.

The name list is six years’ long and is then repeated. Really bad hurricanes (like Harvey, Irma and Maria) are removed from the list. I, Wali, have put the 2019 list in the paper, as well as a poem I like by Tamara. I will come to find you in the next issue and help you plan an emergency kit!