High level of responsibilityThe high level of responsibility displayed by the majority of South Florida residents with Irma was due in no small part to the leadership of the region’s elected officials. Negative factorUnfortunately, the passage of Irma exposed a negative factor; the flaws in the region’s tele-communication system. Most of the large cell companies were unable to provide their customers with cellular service when electricity was lost, and extended periods after. Despite some of these companies advertising prior to the storm they would operate WIFI Hotspots during the storm several customers were unable to access service. Notably, some smaller companies that charge monthly fees as low as $50 for comprehensive cell-phone service were accessible.It’s really poor customer service for cellular phone providers that charge exorbitant fees for their services to be unable to serve customers in a crisis. If the region was hit by Category 5 Irma as originally forecasted, one could understand the loss of cellular service as likely cellular towers would be damaged. But, the region experienced a tropical storm, or at worst a Category 1 hurricane, so why were customer of companies like T-Mobile and ATT without service, some from early Sunday morning, when people needed to communicate urgently with each other. These companies owe an explanation to their customers. They should readily credit their customer’s accounts for lost service.In general, thanks must be given that the history of Irma will not record serious personal or property loss to South Florida. Taught positive community lessonsHowever, the threat, passage, and aftermath of Irma taught some very positive, racist and ethnicity blind, community lessons. Prior to the impact of Irma several neighbors could be seen in various communities giving a helping hand securing homes.On Monday morning, neighbors of various races were seen helping each other clearing fallen trees and debris, and inspecting property for damages.In one South Florida community, a street divides a mostly white and Hispanic neighborhood from another that’s mostly African-American populated. On Monday, the white/Hispanic neighborhood lost electricity, but some residents were provided with hot water for morning beverages, and ice, by residents from the African-American community which had electricityIn Coconut Grove, the homeowner in a home with electricity placed a sign of his front porch inviting neighbors needing to charge their cell-phones to do so.The community spirit displayed over the course of Irma’s saga, is again indicative people are not born with hatred, or as bigots. Bigotry and racism are unfortunately acquired characteristics that people tend to shed when community crises like the threat and/or impact of a natural disaster arises. For some ten-days Hurricane Irma became a part of South Florida’s history. It was on Friday, September 1 that the National Hurricane Center issued a forecast indicating the storm could be a possible threat to South Florida. On Monday, Labor Day, the threat seemed more likely. Some residents took advantage of the holiday to begin stacking up on water, groceries and other normal hurricane supplies. Then on the next day when the storm flared to a mind boggling 185 mph approaching the Leeward Islands, more residents went into hurricane proactive mode than noticeable when prior storms threatened. Special praiseSpecial praise must be given to the mayors of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. They were relentless in their efforts to coordinate evacuation procedures, organize hurricane shelters, and keeping the public generally informed of steps to enhance their safety as the storm approached.Only the extremely cynical would criticize the region’s officials of over-planning for the impact of the storm.Up to Friday afternoon, the consensus of several hurricane forecast models, had Irma approaching South Florida’s eastern-coast urban regions. Although the storm eventually shifted to the west of the tri-county region, the impact felt all-day Sunday, late into Sunday night was still significant.In the aftermath of Irma, the majority of Florida, Light and Power customers in South Florida were without electricity. Residents dread losing electricity, especially being without air-conditioning in the regions heat and humidity. Why not consistent?But then there’s the question. If people of various races and ethnicities can live collaboratively during the impact of a community crises, why can this not be consistent?
The repercussions of climate change on modern migration movements were the main focus of talks last Wednesday between Prime Minister George Papandreou and visiting United Nations Secretary, General Ban Ki Moon, who is carrying out the first visit by a UN Secretary General to Greece. “Greece attaches great importance to the United Nations, of which it is a founding member, while there is a tradition of long-term and multilateral cooperation and dedication to the principles of international law,” said Prime Minister Papandreou, stressing the UN’s decisive mission for global peace and cooperation. Their meeting covered issues of Greek interest, such as the Cyprus problem and the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and matters such as the UN peacekeeping forces and the Millennium targets. Papandreou said that climate change would probably emerge as the foremost problem of the planet and that dialogue on this issue would reach a peak in Copenhagen in December. The Greek Prime Minister announced that he would be attending the climate change summit himself and expressed hope that “we can reach a binding agreement.” Papandreou, emphasised the Greek Government’s dedication to this goal in his talks with the UN Secretary General, in addition the initiatives recently undertaken by the EU and his attempt to redirect the Greek economy toward green development. “The Secretary General will find us to be supportive of his efforts,” he stressed. Concerning modern migration movements and Greece’s chairmanship of the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), Papandreou said that he had emphasised in talks with Ban Ki Moon the need for development in both the countries of origin and the countries that received immigrants so that, when migrants returned to their countries they would transfer know-how, experience and capital to these. Papandreou underscored the need to protect workers and the poorer sections of society from the impact of the global economic crisis. He also noted that the Greek economy had benefited from the presence of migrants while referring to concerns about conditions of hospitality in Greece. “I hope that Greece, as a destination country, will continue to defend and promote the rights of migrants,” Ban Ki Moon added, urging Greece to respect the processes for asylum applications. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon also pointed out the need to maintain the momentum in the Cyprus problem, adding that he appreciates the commitment of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to help the Cypriots reach an agreement. Speaking at a joint press conference with Papandreou after a meeting in Athens, Mr Ban said the UN has significantly contributed to the process for the reunification of the island. Papandreou said he briefed Ban on the latest initiatives he has taken to generate momentum in the Cyprus problem and other issues, and assured the UN chief that close cooperation would continue. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island. On Cyprus and the on-going name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, (FYROM), Mr Papandreou said, “I informed the UN Secretary General on my latest initiatives to create a momentum on both the Cyprus issue and the name issue with FYROM,” expressing satisfaction that his views and the UN Secretary General’s largely coincided and promising close cooperation. Ban Ki Moon welcomed the Greek Prime Minister’s promise of assistance for the Cypriots to arrive at an agreement for a solution to the Cyprus problem, saying that the international community had “high hopes” for the negotiations now underway and that these must continue, adding that UN special envoy, the former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer would continue to work with the leaders of the two communities. Regarding the name dispute with FYROM, the UN Secretary General said that special mediator Matthew Nimetz was ready to repeat talks whenever the two sides were ready, welcoming Greece’s readiness to begin talks and Athens’ assurance that it would fully support the role of the UN special envoy on this issue. The UN Secretary General praised Greece’s contribution to the “concepts of democracy, human rights and a state of law,” and the Greek prime minister’s role at the EU. The UN Secretary General addressed the Greek Parliament on behalf of the UN last Thursday. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram