By Kaelanne Jordan, email@example.com
Archbishop Joseph Harris has warned Catholics not to become complacent about the risk of natural disasters. He condemned the popular saying that God is a Trini adding that “the first year a hurricane does not swing north, and comes straight across [Trinidad] before it starts swinging north then we could be in serious trouble.”
Speaking during CAMSEL’s Ask the Archbishop live chat last Wednesday, the Archbishop questioned whether the country is prepared and ready to respond to natural disasters. He also expressed concern that our infrastructure and buildings, including churches, would not be able to withstand a category 4 or 5 hurricane.
“God is a Trini: God is a Trinity, but luckily for geographical reasons we’re out of the hurricane belt so we don’t get touched by hurricanes very often. I think that saying ‘God is a Trini’, people really believe that we will always escape the natural disasters and problems that the Leeward Islands have. And you can become very complacent.”
He continued, “I don’t know that we follow the building codes that we should be following. And I often wonder if in September, October if there’s a hurricane that comes to Trinidad, what will happen to Archbishop’s House? Are the roofs tied down? Are there shelters? Will I have to go down in the basement and spend the night?…Will this house stand up?”
Archbishop Harris commended citizens for responding to others affected by the passage of Hurricane Irma. However, when asked if enough is being done locally to assist our own people in need, the Archbishop said no.
He explained, “I think it is easy to love people who are far away and who we do not know. So, fine, people are extremely generous and I’m not saying they should not be. [But] it is easy to do that because it does not demand anything from us. And then you say ‘I’ve done my Christian duty’”. “What about our own people here that are suffering? What are we doing for them?” he asked.
Responding to a question on the Government’s 2018 budget which is expected to be delivered soon, Archbishop Harris hoped it provided “a good safety net”. He referenced the Children’s Life Fund and countless children in need of medical assistance questioning how many children are dying because they were denied assistance. “We don’t seem to be able to do things quickly,” he said.