We are all staying glued to the weather forecast for the past month or so because it is hurricane season again. Many of us know the preparation drills and what you should have just in case one hits us. Though have you though about the environmental consequences that come with a storm?
Flying projectiles can damage trees and the reef, and they can end up floating around in the ocean for a long, long time. Tie down anything that could fly away in high winds. It may be your own house that suffers damage if you don’t.
Be careful how you store fuel for your generator. Diesel fuel and gasoline expand rapidly in sunlight, which can make jerry cans rupture. So then you are not just out of fuel, you have an environmental disaster to clean up too. Make sure to store fuel somewhere away from direct sunlight.
Maintaining the oil for your generator is a must. If you run it for long hours, it should be changed about every 200 hours. Make sure you have a good container on hand to place your old oil into, and please, please, please drop it off where it can be recycled, either at Public Works or one of the local mechanic shops.
Also, try and be a considerate neighbor if you need to run your generator. Think of the noise and exhaust your neighbors may have to endure.
If your power is out, your aerobic septic system will also be out of power. Your septic waste will not be treated as well as usual, so be careful that you do not come in contact with the untreated effluence. If you have a graywater system, you may also want to rethink what fruit trees are being fed this water until power can be restored.
As a reminder, if you find downed power lines, DO NOT touch them! Even if power is out everywhere, someone’s generator could be backfeeding into the system—you could get more than just a shock.
Clean out your gutters regularly this time of year, so that if and when we do get a good rain, you can collect as much as possible. If you are close to the ocean, you may want to disconnect your rain leaders into your cistern so you do not end up with saltwater-contaminated cistern water.
Usually after a big storm has passed, the local critters become very invasive, since their homes have been blown away or disrupted. Jack Spaniards, bees, and wasps will be looking for water and nectar, and you may be stung unexpectedly. Palm rats will also be looking for new food sources, so be extra cautious to put away all foods, leaving nothing out on the counters to tempt them, especially fruit.
Finally, please make it a priority to get rid of all standing water around your house after a storm. It only takes a thimbleful of water for mosquitoes to breed. With Zika, dengue, and chikungunya making the rounds, often a large number of people get sick after a storm passes through. Any effort you make to control the mosquito population can help the whole island stay healthy.
Be a good neighbor and help those less fortunate. St John comes together to help one another after the storm passes. It’s what makes our little island so special.
Hopefully we will get through this hurricane season unscathed, and we can look forward to another great winter season.
For a greener tomorrow,