View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 17 September 2010

Roma in France

Roma in this instance refers to a category of travelling people, who have migrated from Romania and Bulgaria to France to evade persecution. It would appear that, judging by recent developments, they have gotten from the frying pan into the fire.

In July, a French policeman shot and killed a young Roma man. The next day, a police station and several cars were torched by Roma people. French president Sarkozy called a cabinet meeting and decided to clear 300 illegal camps, occupied by Roma, and evict their occupants from the country.

This policy has sparked scathing criticism from within the European Union, leading to an equally scathing backlash from M. Sarkozy. The EU has stated that this policy harks back to the dark days of the Second World War, an assertion not exactly appreciated by the French presidency.

Both in the UK and elsewhere on the European continent, the sight of encampments of travelling folk of varying description is common. Their are not usually appreciated by nearby residents, on account of alleged increased levels of petty crime and public disorder. However, evicting one group out of the country as a measure to pander to public opinion has debased Mr Sarkozy to the levels of Maréchal Pétain, who headed up the puppet regime in Vichy France during World War II.

Friday 17 September

A bright but cold day, with a veil of high-level cloud leaving the sky looking white. Adverse weather conditions kept our ferry in Ullapool, on the mainland, overnight. The Isle of Lewis has now made her customary lunchtime call into Stornoway and is on its way across to Ullapool as I type. It would appear the freight ferry Muirneag is back on duty after being off for technical reasons. This caused problems for the freight, bound for the islands, which is normally carried by the Muirneag. Calmac, the ferry company, has diverted that traffic through Skye to go on the Harris ferry.

The war memorial in the district of Uig in Lewis has been selected as the best kept village memorial not-in-a-garden in Scotland. I have not (yet) found a link, it is news from the twitter feed of the Uig historical society.

overlooking this view

Hurricane update - 17 September

Hurricane Karl is now a category III hurricane, approaching Mexico between La Cruz and Punta El Lagarto on the Gulf of Mexico. The storm continues to strengthen and could be at category IV strength, with winds of 135 mph by landfall within the next 12 to 24 hours. Apart from the high winds, the storm will also bring a storm surge, with tidal levels 12 to 15 feet above normal, with large and destructive waves to the area of landfall and points to the north. Six-hourly updates are provided through the NHC website.

I copy the effects a category IV hurricane has on the area of landfall - this relates to the USA; I cannot ascertain what the conditions in eastern Mexico are like.

Winds: 131-155 mph
Catastrophic damage will occur
There is a very high risk of injury or death to people, livestock, and pets due to flying and falling debris. Nearly all older (pre-1994) mobile homes will be destroyed. A high percentage of newer mobile homes also will be destroyed. Poorly constructed homes can sustain complete collapse of all walls as well as the loss of the roof structure. Well-built homes also can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Extensive damage to roof coverings, windows, and doors will occur.

Large amounts of windborne debris will be lofted into the air. Windborne debris damage will break most unprotected windows and penetrate some protected windows. There will be a high percentage of structural damage to the top floors of apartment buildings. Steel frames in older industrial buildings can collapse. There will be a high percentage of collapse to older unreinforced masonry buildings.

Most windows will be blown out of high-rise buildings resulting in falling glass, which will pose a threat for days to weeks after the storm. Nearly all commercial signage, fences, and canopies will be destroyed. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Long-term water shortages will increase human suffering.

Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. Hurricane Charley (2004) is an example of a hurricane that brought Category 4 winds and impacts to coastal portions of Punta Gorda, Florida with Category 3 conditions experienced elsewhere in the city.