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Letter: Gonsalves a modern day people's Canute at war with nature
Published on January 9, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

You see this is the problem, all opposition is seen by PM Gonsalves as war, something that requires aggression to subdue or conquer it. Well that may well be his stance and adopted treatment for political opposition but with nature that cannot possibly work. You cannot be at war with nature; you must try and be in harmony with nature. You must truly adopt a 'together now' policy. Remember that false cry in an attempt to fool the ignorant and the Diasporians, ‘together now’.

Nature has been driving our planet since the beginning of time, millions of years before man and certainly much longer than the ULP. Making a policy to create a people who warmonger against nature just shows the idiocy of the man that demands such. Because if you take on nature you cannot win, it will destroy you.

When you allow the felling of trees in the hills and mountains; when you have the drains, streams and rivers full of logs; when you have an inefficient government running inefficient ministries that are hogtied because they are underfunded, the very damage to bridges, homes and businesses are manmade and not the fault of nature. To be at harmony with nature, we must assist it by removing logs and trees from rivers, gather the logs during the dry season, burn them in the dry rivers or transport them to properly constructed charcoal burner ovens -- they have one at the garbage site at Diamond.

Nature is rain, storm and tempest, something that we cannot even think of trying to control. Flooding because of thousands of logs being in the swollen rivers is our main problem. Every flood catastrophe to date is because of logs and whole trees in the natural drainage system. The big flood at Georgetown was caused by man’s ignorance about nature, but more than that a government that just doesn’t care, perhaps because disaster is a major income stream for them, perhaps they even look forward to such disasters. What is for sure they are major contributors to our disasters. To save the new bridge at Rabacca from being damaged during that storm, the river was diverted and the water carrying an estimated 11,000 tree trunks raced through Georgetown, the logs covered the beaches and wedged under bridges, wiping out businesses and people’s dwellings.

When you build near a river or in a flood plain, sooner or later as night follows day there will be flooding, which will affect property and may well cause loss of life. We cannot control nature.

When you try and divert or tamper with a river, you must be sure to put a whole scheme into operation not just partial schemes, an attempt to protect your own property but ignoring your neighbours, diverting your problem elsewhere is an act of homicidal warmongering with nature.

Rivers, when running, normally weave and wind their ways down from the hills. When there is torrential rain and they become swollen they want to run in a straight line. More so whenever the winding river is blocked with logs and trees, the river then makes a new route and nothing, nothing can stand in its way.

Long ago, England was ruled by a king named Canute. Like many leaders and men of power, Canute was surrounded by people who were always praising him. Every time he walked into a room, the flattery began.

"You are the greatest man that ever lived," one would say.

"O king, there can never be another as mighty as you," another would insist.

"Your highness, there is nothing you cannot do," someone would smile.

"Great Canute, you are the monarch of all," another would sing. "Nothing in this world dares to disobey you."

One day he was walking by the seashore, and his officers and courtiers were with him, praising him as usual. Canute decided to teach them a lesson.

"So you say I am the greatest man in the world?" he asked them.

"O king," they cried, "there never has been anyone as mighty as you, and there never be anyone so great, ever again!"

"And you say all things obey me?" Canute asked.

"Absolutely!" they said. "The world bows before you, and gives you honour."

"I see," the king answered. "In that case, bring me my chair, and we will go down to the water."

“Sea," cried Canute, "I command you to come no further! Waves, stop your rolling! Surf, stop your pounding! Do not dare touch my feet!"

He waited a moment, quietly, and a tiny wave rushed up the sand and lapped at his feet.

"How dare you!" Canute shouted. "Ocean, turn back now! I have ordered you to retreat before me, and now you must obey! Go back!"

We all know what happened then, the sea disobeyed him, wow! What a surprise.

Vincentian people need to stop treating Gonsalves like a modern day Canute, he is but a man who wants to take on nature, wants to be at war with nature.

The remedy is simple, clean the drains, clean the ditches, clean the streams, clean the rivers, remove the logs and debris, clean silt from under bridges, be a friend of nature not nature’s enemy. Teams of men should be working every day, every week, every month, not just a show whilst the world is watching, all the time.

The attitude recommended by Gonsalves will make Vincentians an enemy of nature, instead of nature’s friend and helper. Is that the kind of government we need in power?

Do we need a Canute?

Would all the destruction countrywide have happened or been as bad; would we have lost all those lives if this government had been nature’s friend and helper, instead of its enemy?

Is the ULP government nature’s number one enemy in SVG? They sell and take away beach sand at Brighton. Allowing all kinds of chemical waste to be put in the landfill sites. Pumping raw sewage into Kingstown harbour. They fail to control the millions of disease ridden rats in Kingstown. Burning truck and car tyres in the dry Rabacca River. They allow building in known flood plains. They allow our river systems to become so clogged with logs and trees that they contribute to the loss of life and limb and people’s homes and property. Then they blame nature, declare war on nature, call out their army to fight nature.

Peter Binose
Reads: 2376

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Vinci Vin:

Peter: This is sound reasoning. I have been mulling over these and similar ideas since learning of the floods. One thing you left out is the need to create manmade retention basins/ponds and lakes to harvest and store water during the times of heavy and torrential rainfall. Such basins would take the strain off of the main rivers that cannot handle the large volume of water during such rains.

Just so that you can seperate the facts from the politics, I suggest that you rewrite the letter under the heading: Pragmatic Actions Needed to Prevent SVG floods in the Future.

Good job.

Vinci Vin

Peter Binose:

Thank for your respected input VIN. From what the people told me who I interviewed in the valley. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of tree logs got washed down and got stuck under all the bridges further up the valley. They acted as a dam, which when it finally burst open, a 50’ high wave swept through the valley and flooded the ancient flood plain.

Vin it has happened before and I interviewed people who told me so. Two old men told me about the whole history of flooding from the river in the valley, also about sea surge that sometime devastates the area where the resort is built.

Every flood that has caused disasters in Saint Vincent during the last ten years, 3 occasions but some lesser ones as well, they were all caused by tree log blockage. Kingstown and the airport were flooded because of huge amounts of garbage in the drains, streams and rivers. The government have not supplied the appropriate departments with enough funding to clear these on a regular business. Its a full time rotating job, it has to go on every week of he year.

The river in Buccament flows right through the year, so lakes and ponds would not be the answer, because they would be permanently full. Such an idea would be good as expansion and containment areas if the river was dry at most times of the year and they took the brunt of the flood water whenever it rained sufficiently. But if they were permanently full that would be of no help.

Homes, business’s and the resort should never have been built in the flood plain.

Vinci Vin:

Peter; in the old days before the influx of electric and gas stoves in SVG, the wood that now clog our rivers and streams would have been collected for firewood and lumber. In fact, the forests in the watershed of the river that runs through Vermont to the Buccament Bay extended over to the Windward side of the island, particularly into Tiberew and Colonarie mountains. They were the source of lumber for the government and charcoal and firewood for the residents of neighboring villages. In fact, wood-cutters from Greggs, Wd. Lowmans, Mespo and other villages used to be employed by the government to harvest the lumber under the supervision of forest rangers. Those rangers had lots of economic power in those days. Some of the wood-cutters from the Windward villages married women from the leeward villages and established their homes in places like Vermont, Chateaubellair, Troumaca, etc.

I am quite familiar with those rivers and the flora/fauna of those mountains. Oh what beautiful scenaries and sounds! - a virtual environmental paradise!

You wrote: "The river in Buccament flows right through the year, so lakes and ponds would not be the answer, because they would be permanently full.(only if the water was not used up or diverted to farms) Such an idea would be good as expansion and containment areas if the river was dry at most times of the year and they took the brunt of the flood water whenever it rained sufficiently. But if they were permanently full that would be of no help. (True, they cannot bev permanent full or constructed in the main flow-path of the river)"

Response: You are correct by noting the perpetual flow of the rivers to the sea. However, the diversion process I propose would be to catch and store water during heavy rains and floods. After the flood the water would be channelled to farms through irrigation ditches and possibly pumped out with solar pumps, keeping a minimal level that could be used for growing prawns, catfish, etc. The water could also be treated and exported to the Grenadines, Virgin Islands, etc where fresh water rather than desalinated water would be welcomed. We are wasting billions of dollars by leaving our pure, fresh water to flow into the ocean 365 days per year. What a waste of a valuable resource!

At one time, SVG farmers used a terracing system in their sloping fields to control water runoff and erosion. Below each terrace was a closed canal to trap rain water. For example, The area now known as Queens Drive used to be a fertile agricultural area (corn, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, cattle, goats, etc were produced commercially in that area) and used to be extensively terraced and protected with shade trees. SVG has gone backwards in our agricultural production and management of the land. This is perhaps because the elites who now dominate the national debate and the national purse have no clue as to the pragmatic management of our agricultural resources. to complicate the matter, many of these people appear to disrespect farmers and agricultural production through ignorance of our agricultural history.

In any case Peter, it is always useful to debate our national problems and put forth un-biased suggestions for their solutions. You and I alone might not have all of the answers but if enough like-minded persons participate and work diligently to develop consensual solutions we might yet develop positive contributions to the future of our homeland. The biggest problems are political affiliations and disdain for people in the diaspora (except when politicians coming begging for Vincys in the diaspora to send the barrels and the money to bail them out of national catastrophies).

By the way Peter: What percentage of Vincentians do you estimate would have property and casaulty insurance? I know people insure their automobiles, but do they insure their homes, personal property, livestock and farms? It seems to me that after every tragedy in SVG there is great emphasis on begging and little mention of insurance claims.

Keep on writing. Like everyone else you are not always right (you have your pet peeves) but throught it all you have contributed some good ideas that could be helpful to the nation with proper research and development.

Best regards,


Peter Binose:


Quite coincidentally a few weeks ago before I went to London, at a gentlemen's meeting at a friends house, a group of us got together to discuss investments. We got around to discussing the cost of insurance in SVG. Nine of us eating dinner all gave our views and current insured status. I was astounded that I was the only person who insured my properties. Even an old attorney said he had stopped insuring because it was too expensive.

I am not sure this was a good sample of people, but they were all moneyed people who should know better. I believe a large section of the middle class and upper class in SVG are hurting financially. There is a section of society that relies on and gets financial help from relatives in the Diaspora. But I am sure any poor family without help from the Diaspora must be bordering starvation.

Vehicle owners have to insure, because without the insurance in place they will be unable to license their vehicle for road use. The police are hot on car and highway misdemeanours and crimes, its a major revenue income for the government. You will see for the first week of every month policemen walking carrying penalty books, they are under instruction to collect enough fines every month to pay their wages. They have to do that because the government is so broke they have a problem paying all government employees, not just the police.

I doubt if many people had flood insurance or even any insurance at all on their homes in the devastated areas.

Those that do insure in SVG almost in every case underinsure the true value of what they own, so in the case of loss they will find it hard to get paid out. We all know insurance companies always look for a reason not to pay.

Whatever idea anyone has, just cannot be implemented, the government is broke, they have borrowed to the hilt, they have scrounged until country leaders turn about and run when they see our diplomats approaching them. They have even failed to keep an emergency disaster fund funded, the coffers contain nothing. Unless we get cash from foreign aid we will still be scratching around the disaster sites for ever. The only thing you can get from our present government is old talk, sympathies if you are a ULP supporter, and nothing if you are not a ULP supporter.

There are still approaching 200 people not helped since hurricane Tomas, that was three years ago. 60 people who haven’t been paid for their farm land taken for the Argyle airport. Dozens of Kingstown traders who have supplied the government to the tune of 6o million dollars and have been waiting seven years to be paid. What they all have in common is they are supporters of the New Democratic Party.

Vinci Vin:

Peter: This seems like a "god-send" opportunity for the NDP to step in and educate the public about risk-taking and insurance protection to minimize property damage and loss. In fact, this is also a great time for insurance companies to help with the development of a data base showing the cost of property damage in each village, the number of insurance claims paid, and the number of properties lost that were either not insured or under-insured. Then the insurance companies can mount a campaign to sign up property owners for homeowners and property insurance.

What ah Country!

Vinci Vin

Peter Binose:

VINCI VIN, the root of the problem is that large sections of Vincentian society lost there savings in British American and other financial organisations failing. Others are without employment and no means of support except from relatives in the Diaspora

Almost every home that has a mortgage is in default, everything is for sale and no buyers.

Very few people insure because the cannot afford to insure, they are struggling to eat. They probably do not even know it is the requirement of a bank or institution that holds a mortgage that the occupier keeps the property insured, it would of been a term of the mortgage contract.

I am sure that most of the people who were insured were underinsured and most would not have had flood cover.

I suspect Insurance Companies do not want to insure bad risks unless the premium is very high and they have a formula not to pay out in full, or even at all.

My grandfather swore by not trusting insurance companies, lawyers, and banks. He used to say if you die some one will have to bury you, insurance companies take but rarely give back, if you die and the lawyer is holding your deeds they will steal all you have, bankers are bastards and money lenders are gentlemen.

Some may say he wasn't far wrong but he still died owning huge swathes of land and plenty in the bank at home and abroad. But he was always in control of his finances, never trusted a living soul or organisation.


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