This Rainy Season is going to be a tough one. And this deduction is based primarily on the current fire season, which has charred large sections of Trinidad in particular. The science is straightforward: bushfires, especially large-scale ones, dramatically alter the terrain and ground conditions. Trees, shrubs and other vegetation normally help to reduce runoff by absorbing rainfall. No vegetation means a large amount of runoff, quite likely too much for existing waterways to handle. Vegetation also helps to keep soil stable, so no trees and plants mean large amounts of soil may also end up in waterways exacerbating the situation.
This, for most, is not new information. Many were taught this at school, and every year at the start of the Dry Season, persons are urged not to light unsanctioned fires because of the devastation it can cause, both immediate and delayed. Yet it seems that most persons still do not listen or even care. This fire season has seen extensive blazes that burned for days across parts of the Northern Range, and even threatened homes in Las Lomas. In Point Fortin a few weeks ago, residents were evacuated, since smoke from extensive fires posed a serious threat to their health. Then, on Tuesday this week, fire fighters fought for 10 hours to extinguish a blaze near the Guapo landfill. These of course are just a few instances. There have been countless other blazes that many may see as being insignificant. These, mind you, are usually man made, despite the fact that citizens are warned every year about the dangers of lighting outdoor fires during the Dry Season.
But trust us, it will be a big deal in the long run. Citizens and authorities in this country need to stop being complacent and reactive. We often do nothing to plan ahead or take measures up front to prevent what we know is coming. Instead, we rush to do some remedial work, and then struggle to address the problems resulting from our lack of preparedness. There isn’t much that we can do now given the fact that the Rainy Season is technically upon us. And one would have thought that the massive flooding suffered last year would have put us on our toes. All we can do is hope that this year’s weather treats us better, and take a serious, long look at what we can do to prevent disasters that are partly of our own making.