The Atlantic Hurricane Season kicks off each year on June 1 and ends on November 30. For Caribbean people, particularly for those in coastal communities, these six months are filled with anxiety and concern over their property and livelihoods in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, and with good reason. When a hurricane strikes a coastal area, it brings many serious hazards including heavy rains, high winds and storm surge. All of these combined cause flooding and also push seawater onshore, flooding towns near the coast, and can cause major damages, injuries and loss of life. As an example, Hurricane Gilbert of 1988 caused more than US$900 million in damage, much of which was in coastal areas. With climate change expected to increase the overall intensity and frequency of storms, with likely devastating impacts on vulnerable island communities, beaches represent an important line of defence. But what is a beach?
Image: A street in Kingston in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Gilbert. (Source: Loop News Jamaica)