Message to Students from the Directors on Hurricane Beryl

Message to Students from the Directors on Hurricane Beryl, July 8th, 2024

Dear Students,

On behalf of the entire staff, lecturers and fellows at SALISES across the three campuses, we wish to extend our warmest regards and sincere prayers to you and your loved ones at this difficult time of a devastating climate disaster.

We hope that you and your loved ones are safe, even as you work through the challenges and disruptions that the passing of Hurricane Beryl brought to the Caribbean. We also hope that essential utility services will soon be restored if you have experienced a disruption in these locally and that your basic needs are being met.

Some of you may have had your homes damaged or even destroyed. We understand that this is a deeply traumatic experience. Our heartfelt prayers are with you as disaster relief services and humanitarian assistance are being mobilized to meet the extraordinary levels of needs that so many Caribbean communities and families face at this time.

Yet, we give thanks for life and for what we have managed to keep and sustain despite the passing of the Category 4 Hurricane Beryl last week. Families of each and every kind, friends, community, and solidarity are what we need to sustain us in difficult times.

You are all in our thoughts and prayers as we work together to help you cope with the disruptions as well as realize those precious dreams for a successful degree completion and advance in your personal and professional lives.

We also wish to express our sincere sympathy for the people of Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados, given the tremendous devastation caused by the hurricane. We mourn the loss of lives and the destruction of homes and disruption of livelihoods, especially for those in the island of Carriacou, Union Island and all the farmers who have lost their crops, livestock and property, which has now deepened the state of food insecurity in the Caribbean. We grieve with you, we weep with you, and we share your pain and sorrow.

We stand ready to lend our support to those experiencing dislocations here in Jamaica and elsewhere.

As we move deeper into the territory of the unprecedented with climate change, Hurricane Beryl provides us all with yet another wake-up call to design global, regional and local development better. Our increasing encounters with catastrophic risks from climate change also point to the urgency of operationalizing the principles of climate justice, hastening the research work on climate attribution, and making stronger demands for reparation for the substantive loss and damage being suffered by territories and communities who have contributed the least to climate change but bear its tremendous negative impacts.

We, in the Caribbean, must, however, do everything for our part to redress the development imbalances being experienced and pay heed to the contexts of disaster risk creation as well as the profiteering motives of disaster capitalism. The latter takes place in the wake of disasters for ostensive reconstruction efforts, but which paradoxically act to deepen rather than reduce community vulnerabilities as well as threaten cultural heritage and rights to a healthy environment by eroding citizens’ rights to participation, information, and to free and prior informed consent in development project plans.

May we all therefore find the will and wisdom to truly build back better for sustainable Caribbean futures.

Professor Don Marshall, University Director, Cave Hill, Barbados;
Dr. Sandra Sookram, Director, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago;
Dr. Patricia Northover, Acting Director, Mona, Jamaica