By Joseph Ierna, Jr.
Each year along the hurricane corridor, it happens like clockwork. Massive storm systems spawn and are born off the coast of Africa, in the warm Atlantic Ocean currents. They march along the Ocean, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. We know they are brewing and we know they are coming. And each year, the chatter starts in the community about the storm details. Here on Long Island in the Bahamas, Hurricane Joaquin, a major storm system that demolished the island in 2015, was used as a comparison to the storm that came though this week, Hurricane Irma. Joaquin was a storm that everyone on Long Island, Bahamas was touched by, with some stories holding very tragic details.
Days before a storm’s arrival, people begin to scurry about the community stores, purchasing items such as fuel for cars and boats, water, batteries, and food items such as extra dry goods, can goods, drinks, and tingum. It happens every year, just like Christmas and New Year’s seasons – but this is the “Atlantic Hurricane Season!”
One hurricane tradition that truly amazes me each year is the “boarding up” of one’s beautiful home. Each year you buy plywood and other lumber, screws, nails. Call friends to help, borrow scaffolding and ladders, to put a piece of wood over and protecting your windows. You basically spend the same money and do the same labor, year after year to do what you did last year! If you think about it, this boarding-up process is the same thing you did last year, and the year before, and for that fact for the last 30+/- years, depending on the age of the homeowner. I will say that this “boarding up activity” does create economic activity.
But it is just plain easier and safer and smarter for all to have permanent window shutters hanging on our homes, ready to go at all times! Back in the old days, all the homes would have shutters as part of their design accessories for the home. A nice shutter can be made in a variety of ways, with tongue and groove, v-joint lumber, some 1x4, some glue and a craftsman to do the work. Hanging and locking the shutters can also be achieved through a variety of ways, with all sorts of hinges from old-style black iron pintle hinges in concrete walls, to today’s affordable SS, pin-style hinges and hooks. There is really no excuse why you do not have permanent shutters. You’re spending the same money each year. Building and installing shutters once is way smarter, and just one more thing you do not have to do to be ready for next year’s Hurricane Season.
This is just one little aspect of “Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season” but we believe that shutters should become an essential part of a home’s building and design when living in a hurricane-prone corridor. It is not “if” a hurricane is coming this year, it is “when” a hurricane comes this year. And with shutters already hanging on your home’s walls, you are fully prepared for any blow!
”Well the wind is blowing harder now 50kts or there about – there’s white caps on the ocean and I’m watchin’ for water spouts, it’s time to close the shutters, it’s time to go inside” – Jimmy Buffett's A1A Album
Joseph Ierna, Jr. is the director of the non-profit organization Ocean Crest Alliance, dedicated to honor, protect, and restore the health of the world's oceans and the life of the Earth's systems through conservation, research, education, science, and technology. OCA is planning a 215,000-acre MPA along the coast of Long Island, Bahamas. Ierna reports that OCA’s facilities on the island – which feature window shutters as well as poured concrete construction with reinforced steel bar – survived Hurricane Irma this week with little problem.