March 20, 2008
Disaster preparedness officials on Nevis issued a warning to the public to avoid the island’s beaches over the Easter weekend. The warning was issued on Thursday March 20, 2008, by Director of the Nevis Disaster Management Office Mr. Lester Blackette, in light of an existing weather condition which had given rise to dangerous heavy seas.
“We are advising persons to stay away from the beach especially persons who normally bathe in the sea. Small craft operators should remain on shore or get safe harbour. The waves are very significant and it is affecting the Samuel Hunkins Drive way and the areas surrounding the TDC parking lot.
“We are advising persons to be particularly cautious during this period and we are expecting the heavy swells to continue into today and tomorrow. The boats are still running but I am sure the captains are keeping a keen eye on the weather conditions so that if they need to cancel their trips they would do so,” he said.
Mr. Blackette told the Department of Information that significant wave action was expected as far away as Barbados, St. Lucia and the British Virgin Islands in the north and advisories had been issued by the Meteorological Office in Antigua which is responsible for the St. Kitts and Nevis area.
While dangerous northern swell were expected of up to 12 feet, Mr. Blackette said the forecast that costal flooding and beach erosion could be expected. So far he said there was some damage to the Fisherman’s Pier in Charlestown.
“We have also experienced some mild damage at the fisherman’s pier on the Charlestown roadstead that is because of the height of the waves in some cases the waves are coming over the top of the pier. I understand that last night waves were going up into Charlestown reaching almost as far as the Treasury Building,” he said.
Meantime, while at the Charlestown Pier, a young man from Hamilton saved the day for a visitor when he risked his life to save her handbag which contained her personal documents and money.
Mr. Shawn Warner an off duty employee of the Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority (NASPA) who was about to board the Carib Breeze ferry en route to St. Kitts, dove into the raging 10 foot waves to retrieve the bag of a stranger which had fallen from her grasp while she alighted from the heaving ferry.
Mr. Warner said moments after he swam against the heavy current from the Charlestown Pier into Gallows Bay, his chivalrous behaviour kicked in because of his training as a marine officer with NASPA and did not think twice to assist. Notwithstanding, he said he had no regrets having done the favour even though it was for a stranger.
“I was on my way to St. Kitts and heard this gentleman speaking about his wife’s purse with all her documents and money fell in the water and no one really decide to volunteer and others were looking at me and saying that’s the job I do, a marine officer at the Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority. It was not really such a big deal the water is not all that bad so I just decide to volunteer.
“It was tough the current was pushing very hard but as I learnt as a kid coming up you cannot fight against it,” he said.
He described himself as a one who liked excitement and the sea and gave advice to others.
“I am a person who likes a lot of excitement. As a child coming up that is the weather I actually used to run away from home and come to the beach and swim in. Helping someone is nice because in my Department you have to look out for everyone. So my advice to anyone is if can help someone you do that because you might just need a favour as well,” he said