EYEWITNESS: Survival… in the Big Apple

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That Hurricane Ida posed a threat to life and limb in NYC had to’ve surprised most of us. It certainly surprised your Eyewitness! Weren’t hurricanes a tropical phenomenon that only hit poor countries in the Caribbean, like Haiti – then exhaust themselves as they reach sub-tropical Florida?? Well, not this time! This is the time of CLIMATE CHANGE – which America played the biggest role in creating, and it has now returned to bite America in the ass! Well, that is how most Americans see the Big Apple!!

But news that 13 persons died in NYC as a result of Hurricane Ida was even more shocking. But with millions of tons of water dumped on the “concrete jungle” within minutes, where was it to go?? So, subways and streets became raging rivers of water, following the logic of topology and gravity to flow from high to low. Part of the novelty of Guyanese moving to NYC was the discovery of houses built on what would’ve been the sides of hills and even in filled-in beds of streams.

Everywhere was concreted over, and this is what led to the most shocking news: 11 of the persons who died due to Ida were IN their homes – which, unfortunately, were in “basements”. These were open spaces under the houses where the boilers to generate heat were located. Some owners would use the rest of the space for storage or recreation. Enter Guyanese who’d moved to ‘up north’ to escape the Burnhamite destruction of Guyana, starting from the 1960s – and creating a momentum that continues into the present. Most of them barely got out with the clothes on their backs – only US$15 foreign currency was allowed! So, the only housing most of them could afford was in the “basements”.

Technically, more than half of the basement was supposed to be above ground, permitting windows through which folks could escape in emergencies. They had to be specifically modified to the satisfaction of the City Authorities, to be used as apartments.

But for the new immigrants – from Guyana and the entire Third World, who moved in from the seventies – they were more than willing to live in even the illegal ones, because they were CHEAP. Many of these basement dwellers eventually bought the houses from the Whites, who moved up to the suburbs – and kept renting basements to their compatriots.

Today, it’s estimated there are between 50,000 and 100,000 basement apartments in NYC. And when all that water came pouring down, there was nowhere for it to go but into basements, with a force that just broke through ground-level windows, and even walls.

There were several Guyanese and Trinis in those 11 dead in basements. RIP.

…of the Rum Industry

We’re witnessing the continuing domino effect of the travails of sugar. Even in the best of times, bringing around the sugar industry was gonna be a Herculean Task. And with the rains coming down continuously since last December – and showing no sign of stopping – things are certainly looking gloomy. Like the weather, as this is being written!

Now, we just heard that there isn’t enough molasses – a BY-PRODUCT OF SUGAR PRODUCTION – to supply our Rum Industry – specifically DDL, our biggest producer. And they’ve been forced to purchase molasses from other sources – probably from Belize or Nicaragua. This is tragic, because they just got the Geographical Indication approval, which allows them to have sole ownership of the coveted “Demerara Rum” brand!!  But what happens when their molasses is sourced from elsewhere??! They can’t very well say their product is unique to Demerara, can they??

“For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”

…in America

Belying its vaunted exceptionalism, America has suffered 656,000 COVID-19 deaths – the largest in the world. So, Biden is ramping up vaccination for even the largest private companies.

What say the PNC re their “dictatorship” charges?