Magnitude 7.0

When a natural disaster strikes anywhere in the world, it is cause for alarm, panic and shock.  But, I think when a natural disaster occurs on an island, the reaction time for shock starts before the alarm goes off.

I keep checking the news services online in order to get the latest updates on Haiti after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck that island nation on Tuesday.  And all I can do is repeat over and over, “I can’t even imagine.”

The news today is how they are still uncovering corpses from the piles of rubble from the many buildings that collapsed and how they are running out of water and supplies.  Many of the hospitals are not able to be used due to the structural damage to the buildings.

The International Red Cross said that a third of the 9 million people that live there may need emergency aid.  That’s more people than the entire nation of Mauritius has as a population.  And Haiti is an impoverished country with unstable governments. 

How will they ever rebuild and how long will it take?

Living on an island, I now notice how the sea changes color during the day and what type of rainy day clouds will produce the rains that continue for days on end. 

And I know that if a natural disaster where to strike my current tiny island home, it would take so long to rebuild.

All building and emergency relief supplies would need to be brought in by air carrier or by container ships via the sea.  But, what if the port and/or airport were structurally damaged?  How would anything make it onto the island?

How would people get medicine and food?  How would a clean and safe water supply get back up and running?  And what about electricity – how would the equipment to fix power transformers and power lines get into the hands of the people that know how to fix them?

If the one main 2-lane road was unusable, how would anything or anyone move about the island?  Would Port Louis be shut-down because there’s no other way around it?

Because of the horrible tragedy in Haiti, I find myself thinking about all of these questions and more.  I also think, “Please, please, please let the Government of Mauritius have some sort of disaster recovery program in place.”

Please let all the citizens of this island and all the tourists who visit this island become aware of the disaster recovery plans. 

Please ensure that all doctors on this island are made aware of his or her emergency duties if a natural disaster were to occur.  And please train the police, the people at the airport and the people at the port so that they know how to respond during a time of crisis.

Once again, it is cyclone season here and as it happens every year, people begin whispering about how this year is going to be THE year.  Some people even want a big cyclone to hit the island.

Since I have been here and every single time someone mentions cyclone to me, I have always said, “We don’t want a cyclone.  A cyclone would not be good.”

No.  Not good at all.

To those that wish this terrible natural disaster to occur, perhaps, if you really are that bored, you could pick up a book, toss in a DVD or go hang out with your friends and family.

Think about it.

I can’t even imagine what the people in Haiti are going through right now, but the people of Haiti and all the emergency workers there are in my thoughts and in my prayers.


About Minnesota Pilgrim

A GenX Xpat who moved from Minnesota to Mauritius to France with her Frenchman lover. Multiple cultures, total bedlam, absolute bliss.
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6 Responses to Magnitude 7.0

  1. Katie says:

    I had many of the same thoughts when I heard about Haiti. Is Mauritius any better prepared for this type of emergency? Because my husband works for the government, I know that they are proactive about some things. For example, the government owns land on the continent of Africa that it can use to grow food etc in case that becomes impossible here. I will certainly be asking him about these things later. Perhaps I can pass the answers on to you.

    • Minnesota Pilgrim says:

      It just really made me think. If things go how things go, I have a feeling that perhaps this will end up as a topic of debate for the upcoming elections. Or perhaps the topic will just gather speed, be discussed for a bit and then just fade out once more. I’m just one person here. If there are plans and details out there, I would welcome the chance to be informed, but it should be shared island-wide for all citizens, expats and the many tourists who visit here.

      The current US Embassy website doesn’t have anything specific regarding what to do if there is a cyclone and I couldn’t find anything after jumping to the Bureau of Consular Affairs website; however, I did find this information from the Mauritius US Embassy site from 2007 (perhaps it’s still relevant?), but it doesn’t tell you how to prepare or what to do if a serious cyclone hits:

      Information for Travelers
      Warden Message

      February 2007
      Provided below is valuable information on emergency preparedness for cyclones. U.S. citizens are encouraged to review this information and to share it with family members in order to be prepared in the event of a serious cyclone.


      The cyclone warning system for Mauritius is established by the Mauritian Meteorological Services. They range from Class 1 to Class 4 depending on the probability of the storm affecting Mauritius.

      Class 1 is issued 36 – 48 hours before Mauritius is likely to be affected by a depression or a cyclone.
      Class 2 is issued so as to allow 12 hours of daylight before the occurrence of gusts of 120 km/h.
      Class 3 is issued in time to allow 6 hours of daylight before the advent of 120 km/h gusts.
      Class 4 is issued when gusts of 120 km/h have occurred and are expected to continue.
      Termination: There is no longer any appreciable danger of gusts exceeding 120 km/h.

      The best way to stay informed is to listen to the radio broadcasts (AM1 – 684 KHz, AM2 – 819 KHz, FM – 97.3 MHz) cyclone information, in English and other languages, but at irregular intervals. A distinctive trumpet fanfare tells you a warning is about to be issued. (You can listen to Reunion radio AM 729 KHz, 666 KHz or RM 96.6 MHz, 96.0 MHz – in case MBC is down.) You can also dial 96 for a recorded message from the Meteorological Department.

      Storm information is available online at either of the following websites:
      The local official weather link:
      The U.S. Military has a cyclone tracking system that can be viewed at the following site:

  2. malta4me says:

    After hearing about Haiti and following the story closely on the internet, I too started thinking about what would happen here on Malta should a tragedy of that magnitude occur. I looked around and could actually envision all the concrete buildings collaspsing as easy as a house of cards. There is not nearly as many people and this island is so small, I was also wondering how prepared Malta would be if this ever happened here.

    I think about those poor people and just hope that they get the help they need as soon as humanly possible.

    • Minnesota Pilgrim says:

      Have you registered with the US Embassy in Malta, yet? You and your husband should register in case there is ever any sort of emergency in Malta while you are there. It’s generally a good idea.

  3. Katie says:

    After asking my husband, he said that there is a committee for natural disasters, but he’s not sure if there is an official plan in place. In effect, I don’t think we would be much better off than Haiti. That’s kind of concerning eh?

    • Minnesota Pilgrim says:

      Hopefully, people will start communicating and developing something. It’s hard to think about the ‘what if’ scenarios, sometimes, but I think it’s important. Just like it’s important in business to have data security, system back-ups and disaster recovery plans in place. Mauritius is in a much better place in terms of economy and local security and safety. Haiti is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world.

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