Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 01, 2021 (SKNIS): Persons undertaking construction work on their property are strongly encouraged to consult with the building board and other relevant authorities to ensure that the new structure can withstand the challenges posed by natural or man-made disasters.
Dr. Eric Browne, a member of the Environment Sub-committee of the National Disaster Management Committee, spoke about decisions that some builders are taking which may turn into a recipe for disaster in the future.
One example cited included adding a basement to an existing structure.
“The land has a slope, and once you disturb that slope, that terrain by excavating especially, you have created a sort of a weak point. Now when we have torrential rains and that water soaks into the soil, that soil tends to move into the direction of the slope and so, therefore, it exerts a downhill pressure,” Dr. Browne stated, adding that this can be very dangerous.
He also pointed to a housing development on a hillside in Cayon where some persons opted to dig down into the hill contrary to the pattern used by existing structures. There is a potential for disaster based on the way some of the houses were constructed.
“All that digging down has created weak points,” he said, noting that the weight from the concrete and steel used in larger houses can exacerbate soil slippage.
“Get the proper guidance when you are doing this because if you are going to put down a $500,000 investment only to have one event to occur, that event [can] cause you to lose all of that,” Dr. Browne indicated. “When you are building remember disasters. Build to protect you and the surroundings.”
The National Disaster Management Committee member also advised persons to ensure proper drainage is available and cleared regularly to avoid a build-up of water that can have a disastrous effect on the environment.