In December 2013, the Caribbean islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines received an estimated 15 inches of rain in 24 hours. The resulting floods caused millions of dollars in damage and killed at least eight people.
Eshron Rodgers lost almost everything when his home was flooded in the Langley Park section of Georgetown, St. Vincent. The 24-year-old says most of his clothes, shoes and appliances were destroyed. He was one of the lucky ones, however. The house across the riverbank was swept away entirely. The storm also cut off the neighborhood’s electricity and water for days.
“It was hell,” he says. “My eyes were opened. I could have died.”
Eshron studied computers in school but had trouble finding work. Nearly 40 percent of young people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are unemployed. It can be depressing, says Eshron. Then he heard about PADF’s Resilient Livelihoods Program. He joined a group of 39 other young people in a training on climate change and disaster risk reduction.
The group learned first aid, fire safety and how to respond in an emergency. They learned how to use GPS technology to map their community based on which areas are prone to hazards like flooding or landslides. PADF also set Eshron up with an internship at a local cocoa farm, where is now working full time.
“My job is good,” he says, adding that his training in climate change and disasters is informing the way he looks at agriculture.
“Because of the program I am more adept. I understand what is climate and what is weather,” he says. “I’m able to educate people who are ignorant in these areas so they can also go and tell other people about climate change.”
Now, he understands that planting trees along riverbanks can prevent erosion and help protect crops from flooding during storms.
He’s most proud of the group’s newfound knowledge in disaster response. “I’m able to now do CPR,” Eshron says. “If disaster strikes, we can help save lives.”