Making Maki is the home of Maki B. It’s where all of life’s parts meet. Figuring out the work-life balance, managing finances, navigating relationships, finding the things that give us joy, appreciating life’s journey and caring for ourselves along the way. Making Maki isn’t about finding any particular thing; it’s about always searching for the best versions of ourselves and making the most of all of life’s lessons and opportunities.
“I’m grateful that Irma was just a few hours. If it stayed with us the way Dorian is clinging to Freeport, I don’t know if we’d be around to talk about.” That’s the message I sent to a friend yesterday as we discussed the destruction to Abaco and Grand Bahama caused by Hurricane Dorian.
For the past few days, I’ve been stuck on Facebook, taking in the videos and photos posted by the residents of the Northern Bahamas. Most of the videos showed persons in homes that had lost their roofs or homes that were being consumed by water. Taking it all in, my heart grew heavy as a horrible mix of sympathy, hopelessness and overall sadness set in deeper and deeper. Seeing videos, photos and various posts coming out of the Bahamas broke my heart over and over. Even more difficult to internalize was the fact that those posts were just a tiny fraction of the days that Dorian spent over the islands. Not hours; days. Thinking about the Bahamian experience, my mind eventually drifted to my own Irma and Luis experiences.
When Luis hit, I was six years old – and six-year-old me was too young and confused to understand why my father and brother stood holding a door for hours. Six-year-old me didn’t feel the panic that a major hurricane could cause. Irma hit me at 28 and (un)fortunately, 28-year-old me definitely understood it. Hurricanes are no joke and their intensity can change or take a life in an instant. If the force of these hazards isn’t worrisome enough, their record-breaking trends should alarm us all.
During one news segment, a meteorologist said that Dorian was the strongest hurricane to have struck land and to have stayed for so long. Keep in mind that our very own Irma took the title for strongest sustained winds to have struck land just two years ago – two years ago. Time has been going so quickly that those two years feel like just two months. Those two years should make us all wonder if this could be our new normal.
Our Caribbean is one of the most vulnerable regions of the world. Between our general dependency on imported resources and our difficulty absorbing external shocks (both natural and man-made), we are often standing on the shorter side of the stick. Moreover, while we contribute less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, our per capita emissions are higher than world averages, meaning we’ve got some work to do internally – particularly with waste management and energy production. These are the conundrums of our reality.
We can either have these facts be the long-term conundrums that go unanswered, or we can have them be the facts that spark change within ourselves, our communities and our world. We can charge a way forward that sets the standard for responsible sustainable development. The images of large sections of Grand Bahama submerged made the idea of rising sea levels even more real. I’ve always believed in climate change and the effects it will have on the world, particularly small islands. But actually seeing an island covered, if even temporarily, made it all real. I’d like to say that this isn’t a call to action, but it is.
This is a call for all of us to build resiliency within ourselves, our communities and our world. We just witnessed Dorian and I know that we haven’t forgotten Irma. We couldn’t have forgotten the winds during the storm, or the weeks and months of emergency response after. Both struck during the peak of the hurricane season.
This is the same peak that should remind us to be prepared for whatever may come our way. A reminder to stock our homes with non-perishable foods, drinking water, feminine hygiene products, cleaning supplies, baby supplies, battery-operated radios, flashlights, batteries and other emergency supplies. This is the time to ensure that our yards are clean and the drains cleared. This is when we check in on our elderly neighbours or those less mobile than us, to see if they need a hand with their own preparations.
No one wants another Irma or Dorian. No one wants to see death and destruction, but unfortunately, we can’t control the weather – all we can do is prepare as best as we can, as early as we can.