Clarity, Charity And The Hurricane Irma Catastrophe In The Caribbean


Units inside the Tutu High Rise remain exposed to the outside more than a week after Hurricane Irma destroyed the building September 17, 2017 in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. With sustained winds at 150mph, Irma blew completely through the Tutu High Rise building, killing one woman when she was sucked out of her apartment. Hurricane Irma slammed into the Leeward Islands on September 6 as a Category 5 storm, killing four and causing major damage on the islands of St. John and St. Thomas. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image)

By Dr. Isaac Newton

News Americas, ATLANTA, GA, Mon. Sept. 18, 2017: Horrific situations reveal tough truths. Add soul-searching reality, and the awareness is raw.

There are countless stories of devastation calculated in tragic anguish. There is a trail of wreckage measured in billions. These have pushed the Caribbean region into a deep mess.

Hurricane Irma was brutal to us. She was harsh to the US.

But there are other kinds of violence.

This horrible hurricane that behaved like an evil earthquake has attracted little charity from China, Jet Blue, American Airlines, beneficiaries of our Passport by Investment Programs, the Cruise Ship Industry, and countless international experts and companies that do business with the Caribbean.

The expectation that our people should gladly rally for cleaning up and restoring the Caribbean is reasonable. Natural disaster may be a powerful force but so are the psychology of tyranny and feelings of abandonment.

It is simply unjust and unacceptable that leaders should leverage the goodwill of Diaspora talent during times of calamity, yet shun those same gifts during seasons of plenty.

How ironic it is, that Caribbean politicians often give our best assets to those who care about themselves the most, and least about our sustainable wellbeing.

While we decry indigenous minds, the only way to secure regional rebuilding is by harnessing homemade extraordinary abilities, intentionally.

This notion that foreign is superior and excellence is imported will continue to make us poorer and others richer despite natural disasters.

We must kill this mindscape immediately through educational advocacy and applied social pressure.

While CARICOM leaders toured the scenes of suffering and held meetings to leverage global charity, Caribbean peoples living across the region, and in the Diaspora responded mightily, mercifully and compassionately to disaster relief initiatives.

Those despised came to the rescue, those embraced turned their backs.

Irma has produced; I hope psychological clarity in the midst of this dilemma.

Wake up island leaders. Stop sleeping my people.

In the massacre of precious lives and property, our people have poured their souls and resources into a recovery process, knowing the impact from this ruin, will last over a decade.

Of Caribbean people, it can be said, we showed unrestricted resilience. Were we equally prepared for this disaster? Indeed.

No matter how prepared or resilient we are, there is limit when nature unleashes her fury.

In stark contrast, leaders from England, Holland and France, perhaps, embarrassed by responses to Irma of being too late or too little, sought to visit the region with commitments to rebuild overseas territories and provide urgent relief goodies.

What makes it tougher to invite global support in this crisis season is that US, England, France and Hollard are battered by nature’s chaos. They must attend to tragedies overseas. In England, leaders must also address the trauma of terrorism at home.

Should I hold my breath that companies that make billions from the Caribbean will show some social responsibility or that our leaders will hold them accountable?

If we want to enjoy peace and recovery in the Caribbean, we cannot continue to sow bad faith in homegrown talent and reap goodwill.


We need a new approach to rebuilding. We need a fresh priority to restoration.

To shift from amazing disgrace to flowing justice, politicians will have to divert scare resources reserve for reelection and showcase projects into making the Caribbean livable, safe and serene again.

Charity begins at home.

But charity is best expressed by investing in Caribbean talent. This investment should take the form of bankable opportunities. Leaders should not just look to our people when misfortune strikes.

Removing roadblocks will require Caribbean leaders to practice real empowerment of its own talent, if not; outcomes will produce another generation of people, property and plans lingering in pittance.

If voters in the Caribbean do not demand excellence from our leaders, they will continue to reinforce a novel separation between politics and people-centered prosperity.

As the rebuilding efforts gets in full swing post Irma, are we faced again with that vexing question of how much we can emancipate ourselves from financial slavery and psychological un-freedom?

I still believe that the Ethiopian can change his mind and the leopard its direction.

Then let us not endanger the deeper rebuilding process of regional love and island pride that we are trying to protect.

If we yield to the claims of a liberated Caribbean, the path out of this catastrophe must be totally different!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Isaac Newton is an International Leadership and Change Management Consultant and Political Adviser. He specializes in Government and Business Relations, and Sustainable Development Projects. Dr. Newton works extensively, in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and is a graduate of Oakwood College, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia. He has published several books on personal development and written many articles on economics, education, leadership, political, social, and faith based issues.





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