10 Things Learnt & Reinforced post Hurricane Irma 2017 #AnguillaStrong

Hurricane Irma might have ruffled our feathers but we’ll shake it off and it definitely won’t dampen our will to succeed as a country. We as Anguillians are prepared to take this ‘setback’ to prepare for a ‘major comeback’.

Here are some things Hurricane Irma taught us and others things that she reinforced.

1. Value the Strength of the Community

It is often said that more is accomplished when you work together to achieve a common goal. Close knit communities are a feature of our culture and the vibrancy of the community spirit is ignited especially in times like these.

Households taking turns to feed the community; working together to clean up and aiding wherever necessary; and sharing and giving to those in need are examples of the efforts that can positively contribute to the health and prosperity of the community. We are #OneAnguilla!

2. Never take Anything for Granted

In a few seconds, you can lose everything you have. Some say that “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” and others say “you know what you have but you would never imagine that you would lose it”.

Hurricane Irma Anguilla

Whatever the case may be, many have lost, and now miss, their possessions and the convenience of life that were swept away by Hurricane Irma. In hindsight, many now appreciate what they had.

Never take anything for granted! Count your blessings! Appreciate the little things in life. Even in times of adversities, be positive and grateful for life.

3. Time is uncertain! Cherish It! Maximise It!

The technological age has helped tremendously in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of various processes but face-to-face, human interaction has suffered as a consequence. Consumed by, and addicted to technology, individuals have placed less emphasis on physical human interaction over the years.

Hurricane Irma Anguilla
Electricity and communication poles downed

With limited to no access to technology, it is back to basics – spending time and bonding with family and loved ones like times before. Sadness was combated with joy as family members and other loved ones: shared stories; reminisced; played games like dominoes, cards, yard cricket and other traditional childhood games in Anguilla; sang songs and other activities to keep the mind preoccupied.

On the bright side, the passage of Hurricane Irma has made several persons realise what they have been missing out on due to the various distractions of life. With the uncertainty of life, make the most of your time!

4. Make time to soak it all in!

Natural disasters and other negative situations hand you candidly/bluntly a reality check. While still trying to comprehend the magnitude of the destruction, your eyes are opened to things and underlying, lingering issues that you might have missed when distracted or in a rush. It’s the wake-up call that prompts you to reanalyse how you live your life and spend your time.

As you sit on your porch or stroll through the neighbourhood, you spot and marvel at things that you have never seen before although they were there all of the time. Or, you have an “Oh Yeah!” moment when you see things that you forgot were there. This would occur because of the lack of awareness of one’s surroundings and not making time to soak it all in.

Hurricane Irma Anguilla Lillies

Listen to the birds chirping, watch the flowers bloom and children play and most importantly, embrace the simple things in life that make your heart glad. Be mesmerised by the tranquillity and beauty of it all!

5. “If crab don’t walk, he don’t eat!”

No Vehicle? Limited Gas supply? Have no fear, the popular but dreaded, mode of transportation never fails you! What is it called? “A11” (A eleven) in Anguilla or “footing it” or simply, “walking”!

So… Lace up your comfy walking shoes and hit the road! It might take longer and more energy is required than when driving but if: 1) you don’t have any gas in your car or 2) you don’t have a functioning car, A11 is the option for you especially if you want to get things done!

It’s a good way to “kill multiple birds with one stone” – keeping active, being in touch with your surroundings as you walk through neighbourhoods and getting to where you need to be.

6. Look for black sheep before dark

Growing up in Anguilla, “Look for black sheep before dark” or “Mek case before de sunset” were common sayings to “place fire under ya foot” to get things done before the darkness settled in.

The deep darkness of the night has returned because of the extensive damage done to the electricity infrastructure island wide and now these phrases are more than relevant. Due to there being inadequate lighting, time management skills must be fully employed to get tasks done between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm. After that, it’s lights out!

7. Appreciate the traditional methods

No electricity?! Do it the manual way!

Our parents, grandparents and their ancestors did not have the ‘luxuries’ that we have today – no longer analog but digital; no longer manual but automatic.

It was essential in upbringing that children were taught to do things manually whether by choice, in the case of having other alternatives, or not. Now that many homes are without electricity, they have no choice but to revisit the methods of the older generations.

“I wanna try! I wanna try!”

The longing to replicate the “squish squish” sound that mothers and grandmothers made while they washed clothes on their hands, a technique that Caribbean people use, forever fascinates children and dumbfound adults. It stimulates their eagerness and adds fun to washing on their hands.

Get your buckets and “draw ya water”.

As a result of not having electricity to power the water pump to have running water, it’s time to use your muscles! Most buildings in Anguilla are equipped with a cistern – collects and holds water for use throughout the building – but to gain access to this water is a strenuous task!

No stove? No problem!

Get some dry sticks, some rocks and strike a match to get the fire going for the pot – cooking outdoors!

Several persons had to pick up a hammer and “pung a nail” or some other form of labour but according to “de old people”, “Hard wuk neva kill nobody!”

Of course, there are many other older, traditional methods that had to be utilised after the passage of Hurricane Irma but they all evoke a greater appreciation of what the older generation went through.

8. “Waste Not. Want Not.”

The wrath that Hurricane Irma brought led to the damaging of key infrastructures like the ports of entry and supermarkets and consequently, hindered the process of obtaining resources and other necessities.
As a result of this hindrance of the flow of resources, supply is more limited.

Hurricane Irma Anguilla Blowing Point
Blowing Point Ferry Terminal

Conservation is key for survival! Using sparingly is not a choice but a must! Thus, if you waste away the resources that you have, it would be foolish to wish to have it back once it is done.

9. “Mek do wid wa you have”

Survival mode has kicked in and well… what you would not use in normal circumstances, you have to use now. Nothing is to go to waste or go unused. It’s all about maximising the use of resources that you have to accomplish what needs to be done.

For example, using random ingredients to make a meal (cook-up) or using water that was used to wash to flush, just to name a few instances.

10. Back to Barter

Hurricane Irma did a “one, two, three” on our economy. Some are unable to work and the flow of income has been disturbed. Due to the uncertainty of how and when persons will get access to money, some persons have decided to trade to satisfy their wants and needs – no money involved. This and the above points are prime examples of adaptations for survival.

11. What have you learnt?

Share with us your Hurricane Irma experience and the lessons you learned below.

Hurricane Irma did many things but we are #AnguillaStrong – read the short recap of the passage of Hurricane Irma in Anguilla.

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