Monday, May 20th

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Editorial - Better safe than sorry

Danny turned out to be a dud, but one could not be sure of that until it actually passed well to the South late Monday morning. Some no doubt will complain about making a lot of fuss over nothing, but they should keep in mind that local authorities do not have a crystal ball.

What’s more, Danny was a major category 3 hurricane at one point and although forecasts had the cyclone losing strength while it approached the Caribbean, nobody knew for certain how much. In the end it was no longer even a tropical storm when entering the local area, but taking a risk by doing nothing in the way of additional protective measures might also have been seen as downright irresponsible.

It was a rather small system, so the distance at which it passed made a big difference and early projections had put the disturbance very near St. Maarten. The truth is that precipitation always was expected to be limited due Danny’s size, but some of the more Southern islands closer to its centre reportedly received quite a bit of rain.

What must be taken into account as well is that practice has shown particularly the Saunders/Reward/St. Peters cul de sac where most schools are concentrated to be vulnerable to flash-flooding. The decision to make businesses shut down from Sunday night and keep Government closed on Monday may be questioned, of course, but – again – it’s very hard to predict what the precise path, time-line and consequently the impact will be in such cases, as last year’s experience with Gonzalo clearly proved.

Perhaps it could be argued that the latter still being fresh in the memory led to over-cautiousness this time around. However, considering the effects on that occasion, who can really blame those in charge?

What ought not to happen now is that people become complacent and no longer take future disturbances seriously. The next one is in fact already on its way and definitely bears watching. Better safe than sorry.