Words by Prof. Saviour Formosa
“Extreme weather leaves Mediterranean countries picking up the pieces. Egypt and Lebanon were the hardest hit with over 1.2 million people displaced overnight. Malta didn’t fare much better. The authorities have reported over 2,300 dead or missing, thousand injured and 74,000 persons displaced. Power cuts have been reported all over the island after Turbine Two tripped at the Delimara Power Station. Enemalta have not replied. The islands have taken a major blow to their infrastructure. Debris has been reported 1 km away from the coasts. The AFM and emergency responses were immediately dispatched and are starting to clear arterial roads. Insurance companies are still counting the costs. Valletta, Floriana and parts of Isla were protected from the storm surge by centuries-old Knight’s fortifications. The following localities have been affected: Birgu, Bormia, Kalkara, Marsa, Gzira, Msida, Pietà, San Giljan, Sliema, Ta’Xbiex, Xghajra, Birzebbuga, Marsascala, Marsaxlokk, Xlendi and Marsalforn. “
The above cutout could become reality if a Category 3 storm lashes Malta with 178 to 208 km per hour winds. The chances are minimal but too probable to ignore, since in 1995 a similar storm formed close to the Maltese Islands followed by others in 1996, 2006, and 2011. Below are two scenarios that compare Malta as it currently stands against an island with a solid disaster management plan.
[ SCENARIO 1 – AN UNPREPARED ISLAND]
The emergency forces have been inundated with calls for help and have few plans to operate a workable rescue effort. Key personnel were lost at home or while rushing to the scene, since the infrastructure has been knocked out, paralysing the island. Power surges or power cuts have caused fires all over the Islands creating an apocalyptic scenario. With the storm still raging, the lack of a back-end ICT network has rendered communication near impossible.
[ SCENARIO 2 – THE IDEAL SCENARIO]