Just over a week ago, the island of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean was struck by prolific flooding – but it was barely reported by media anywhere. Deepti Panray, who works with the local NGO, Environmental Protection and Conservation Organisation sent us this first hand account. Our thoughts go out to the people of Mauritius as they recover from the devastation.
Today my country has suffered a shock that has traumatised the whole population. We have been experiencing torrential rains since last night Tuesday 12th February 2013. And as I am typing this now, rain is still pouring outside. My country has had to face flash floods and land slides as a result of such strong torrential rains. Many people are without shelter and food tonight. Drains and rivers were overflooding, barriers built quickly to keep the water at bay did not hold long enough before roads were flooded. People woke up in the middle of the night with metres of water inside their homes. People had to tie their cars to their garages so that the water would not carry them away. So many people were injured trying to save the bare minimum to survive and sustain their families.
No strategic plans were put into place despite the calamities of the last floods in 2008. The Disaster Management Committee is owned by the government and only kept making public statements in the press to say that everything is under control while people in dire straits kept calling local radios. The population of Mauritius will not forget the events of today and I hope they will learn from what happened because this is going to happen again and again in the face of climate change.
The extreme weather events that took place in Mauritius today are signs of the direct impact Climate Change has on our weather patterns. Not only have we been experiencing a more diverse set of micro climates but we have now faced prolonged torrential rains that have resulted in flash floods and landslides. People’s lives are at stake and no disaster management plans have been put in place so far. Most of our population are still ignorant about the phenomenon of climate change and its related impacts and issues. An ignorant population makes us even MORE vulnerable to climate change. And ignorant stubborn leaders and authorities who refuse to face the unavoidable makes us the MOST vulnerable.
This experience has made me tense and very angry. We are helpless against the forces of mother nature but this does not mean that we have to be totally ignorant in dealing and adapting to impacts of Climate Change. Mitigation, adaptation and resilience are key to challenging and hopefully overcoming extreme weather events associated with climate change impacts. I feel powerless in the face of the series of bad decisions that local authorities keep taking, previously during the 2008 floods that shocked the country and now during the actual floods that are still happening throughout the island of Mauritius.
I wish I could voice out my opinions so that more people could hear me out and become aware of how ignorant we presently are and how this ignorance is causing more damage to us. I wish people would stop blindly following what the government says they must do. I wish those people would take charge and mobilize to make the local authorities realize that they have a responsibility towards the population. I feel it is time we take our futures in our own hands and make those global shifts happen because whether we like it or not, climate change is catching up with us. I feel it is time we just stop simply reacting.. but start choosing to ACT!