Let me especially thank the clean-up crews who came out and in so doing created an atmosphere of hope. Particularly impressive were those I saw on the Coronation and Queen Elizabeth Avenues where heavy equipment contractors like Rayme Lake; Bumba Carty; Wilmoth Richardson and Eldon Rey donated their equipment free of charge to assist in the clean-up operations.
There is a well-known saying: “you never miss the water till the well runs dry!” In this context, the absence of water, electricity and television was strongly felt throughout the island. The work crews from these utilities persevered even under threat of on-coming storms to restore these practical amenities of modern living. We are thankful that they worked safely and without incident.
There were many murmurings among the impatient ranging from: “why they taking so long? -- St. Maarten don got current back!” to “we shoulda have electricity underground!” Or, “we got electricity wa happen to de cable?” and “I gon get me own satellite dish!” Of course as soon as these utilities were restored all these murmurings were quickly abandoned. And soon taken for granted once again.
I cannot help but mention our service at Ebenezer at six o’clock the morning before the Hurricane. It was there that our Pastor on duty gave a prayer of deliverance that moved me and I assume many others into a realm of confidence to believe that we would fare well despite the forecasts. And as I said to a couple of friends after the service I was confident that those prayers would find favour with the Almighty. Indeed they did!
Our gratitude must be extended to the St. Maarten Radio Stations, Laser Radio 101.1 and Radio Soualiga 99.9 for keeping us informed and entertained --- thus providing a vital service when Radio Anguilla went down. Indeed it was instructive to hear our Minister of Home Affairs reporting from Cole Bay. Someone said jokingly: “the Minister of Home Affairs don’t stay home at all!” All in good post-hurricane humour!
Radio Anguilla eventually returned and held its own as the “Nation’s Station”. And although almost an entire “work-week” was affected --- the aftermath as usual highlighted the renowned resilience of the Anguillian Community and its ability to adapt to changing situations.
It was a widely held view long before the storm that in some mysterious way hurricanes seem to have an attraction for the present Chief Minister, the Hon Hubert B. Hughes. Many theories have been advanced that seek to show a causal relationship between his tenure and the incidence of hurricanes. Of course I would not credit any of those theories with having any scientific evidence to support them. Nevertheless, the historical facts will show that during the first two years of his tenure as Chief Minister and beginning in 1995, Anguilla was struck by three Hurricanes within a nine-month period, namely, Luis, Marilyn and Bertha. It should also be noted that we did not get a direct hit for thirty-five years, that is, since the famous Hurricane Donna in 1960. Then upon his reelection in 1999, Jose and Lenny struck us, one month apart in October and November of that very year. Now once more, in 2010, Hurricane Earl has struck and the season is not yet over.
One of the theories being propagated locally is that disasters attract disasters whether human or natural. Little wonder then that when the Chief Minister made his joint statement with His Excellency the Governor before Hurricane Earl he saw it fit to make the following clarification and I quote: “Remember this is a natural act of nature, Anguilla is in the Hurricane path, it is not Hubert Hughes. I am not God!” I would have like to have been a “fly on the wall” to observe the Governor’s face when our Chief minister made these comments.
But before I return to this issue of “divinity and/or deity” let me make some explanatory comments about a very cursory statement made in a press release from the Government of Anguilla two days after Hurricane Earl. It stated that the Government of Anguilla would be receiving just over four million US dollars after fourteen days from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF). No one in this Government took the time to mention that the former “do-nothing” AUF Government had the foresight and forward planning to enter into a contract with CCRIF for catastrophic insurance, in October 2006, at a rate of US $500,000 per year. Neither did anyone mention the sterling efforts of the senior technical officers in the Ministry of Finance who worked hard to negotiate that contract. Indeed, when the past Government brought the supplementary budget to the House of Assembly for this expenditure many negative statements were made during the committee stage of the debate. Today when this preliminary payment would have been received it will represent more than double the total premiums paid to CCRIF since the agreement was signed. Sweet!!!
The CCRIF contract is a very important national security arrangement. It covers Anguilla for both hurricane and earthquake losses and is triggered by an index formula which is based on historical measurements of such events which have occurred in our region. Once a country is affected by an event that exceeds the trigger amount, an automatic payout is generated for the first of three events per annum. In the case of hurricanes, it is for one that exceeds certain wind speeds and for earthquakes once a particular magnitude is reached. There is therefore no “guess work” in calculating the payout. And an interim payout is made within three business days of the event and a final payout within thirty business days.
Based on our contract, the overall losses to Government is assessed as follows:
• Loss due to direct damage to key Government buildings.
• Reduction of tax revenue due to reduction in business activity.
• Estimated loss due to damage to key infrastructure.
• Estimated Government Relief Expenditure (assumed to be equal to 1% of total damage to residential buildings in the area)
In essence this “thirty-one page” insurance policy document is both accurate and effective in dealing with the insurance of public assets. In recent times such coverage became woefully inadequate because of the prohibitive costs --- as the amount of damage caused by natural disasters in our Caribbean region continues to increase. The CCRIF’s rapid response in the wake Hurricane Earl is therefore a solid testimony to the efficiency of this solution.
But let me now return to the issue of “deity and divinity” which seems to be very loosely banded about by the Chief Minister and a number of his supporters. And for those of you who may have missed it --- I will personally pay to publish in the next Anguillian Newspaper a copy of the Chief Minister’s 2000 campaign pamphlet entitled: “My Long Crusade”. The pamphlet brings into focus his egotism; his tendency to rewrite history; his belief in his own fabrications, and; his feeling of having a divine right to rule.
I will quote four statements from that pamphlet and very briefly comment on them as follows:
1. He wrote: “When the true story of Anguilla was written it may very well be proved that my entry into politics sparked the Anguilla Revolution.” My comment: Everyone knows that Hubert was a staunch member of Bradshaw’s Labour Party even based on his Anguilla Day Speech this year.
2. He wrote: “Anguilla lost much because selfish covetous people shortened my stay in Government in 1980-1981 and 1984 to 1985.” My comment: “ Who are these selfish covetous people he is speaking about he left (or was fired from) the Hon. James Ronald Webster Government in 1981 and then left (or was fired from) the Sir Emile Gumbs Government in 1985.”
3. He wrote: “ As Minister of Finance and Lands 1984-1985 I single-handedly negotiated the purchase of the Bank of America for the NBA, now the largest bank in Anguilla.” My comment: Hubert had nothing to do with negotiating the purchase of Bank of America for NBA even though GOA bought shares it was neither negotiated nor purchased by the Minister of Finance or Government of Anguilla.
4. He wrote: “A glowing glory for Anguilla however, was when due to the intervention of the Holy Spirit I was made Anguilla’s third Chief Minister in March 1994.” My comment: Again the Holy Spirit is being evoked into the Anguilla political process.
You may be wondering what all this has to do with hurricanes and catastrophic insurance. Well --- we are all talking about disasters, their causes and responses. It is obvious that we have a Government that has done nothing but complain since it came to office. We have not yet seen the plans that it claimed to have during the recent campaign to turn things around. We continue hear about “prayer warriors” supporting their campaign of political victimization. Indeed we have heard one of the AUM campaign clerics, the Rev. John A. Gumbs declare: “Anyone who votes for the Anguilla United Front commits an act against God and will be punished!” I have been warned by one of the AUM clerics not to touch the Lord’s anointed. But while I will not venture to touch “the hem of the garment” of any of the AUM clerics --- I do have a sense of blasphemy when I hear it.
A skeptic may ask whether our hardships from man-made or natural disasters are as a result of those persons who voted for the Anguilla United Front. Are we all being punished because of the AUF voters? While I strongly doubt the prophecies of the AUM clerics. I have a strong belief in God’s providence to all mankind. And like the publican standing afar off I too declare: “God be merciful unto me a Sinner!”
Victor F. Banks
September 8, 2010