ON 6 SEPTEMBER 2017 HURRICANE IRMA ripped through the Eastern Caribbean leaving catastrophic damage. It was followed by the devastating Hurricane Maria. (I don’t know why I’m saying this as if it’s news when I’ve had mentionitis about it for nearly 6 months.)
The long-suffering friends and family of Caribbean residents might have noticed a smattering of hurricane jargon being used by their loved ones. Here is a quick glossary for your information:Cat 5: we all about ‘cat 5’ and ‘cat 3’ hurricanes now as if we’ve known the scale off-by-heart since forever. In reality, rewind less than 6 months and most of us were googling ‘is a category 5 hurricane better or worse than a category 1 hurricane?‘ (Turns out the answer is: worse.)
Cat 7: everyone knows these doesn’t exist. EXCEPT WE ALL KNOW THAT IT DOES AND WE HAD ONE. Even Richard Branson says so.
Climate change: = real.
Evacuation: I used to think this meant bowel movement. It also means a quick exit in a helicopter or charter plane. Although the two things probably often happen in quick succession.
the Eye: not just a turn of phrase, the eye of the storm is the deadly, ear-popping calm experienced as the centre of a cyclone passes over you. It marks half time, but there aren’t any half-time oranges, or in fact any remaining vegetation. Usually, venturing outside during the eye is about as clever as flying a kite in a storm, but during Irma lives were saved during that window of calm as people ran for shelter after their homes ‘mash up’ in the first half.
Gene: pronounced ‘jenny’ this is short for generator. As in ‘sweetie, can you put the gene on – I need a poo‘.
Jerry can: who’d have thought we’d see in 2018 as the proud owners of five jerry cans?
Lineman: think tree surgeon type, but with electricity. The arrival of these hard-working men raised electricity poles… and ladies’ hopes of a one-night stand with a rugged outdoorsy type.
Mash up: this is not a hurricane-specific phrase, but a Caribbean expression meaning break, destroy or tear down. Locals and immigrants alike have been making frequent use of this expression since 6 September.
(HMS) Mounts Bay: not to be confused with Mount Gay, this is a British naval ship that patrols the Caribbean during hurricane season. Either is a sight for sore eyes in a crisis.
Transformer: something to do with making electricity work. Even if (like me) you don’t know what one is, you can still use it in a sentence: i.e. ‘oi you fucker I can’t believe you got power back before me… I’m going to nick your transformer‘.
And that concludes today’s lesson. BVIers, let me know if I’ve missed anything!