Before the latest hurricane recedes from memory, before all the phones are repaired and electricity restored, something must be done to do away with hurricane names like Lenny. It's one thing to be hit by a late season hurricane that came in through the rear door. But to be smacked around by a hurricane called Lenny is, well, demeaning. The name is so wimpy.
A solution is at hand. The national hurricane center in Miami should turn over the selection of hurricane names to the people who have had the most experience, albeit unfortunate experience, with these tropical storms that have bedeviled the Caribbean for the past decade.
That's us, the people of the Virgin Islands. We are the people who suffered., not those experts in their air conditioned headquarters in Miami. The least they can do for us is to allow us to select next year's hurricane names. We will select strong names with special meaning to our islands.
To start us off, I've drawn up a preliminary list, following the national hurricane center's rules: Each is, or could be, a first name. Names beginning with the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z cannot be used.
Adelbert, Alicia or Almando—Three strong winds. Let them fight it out to be the first hurricane of the season.
Bert—If he loses in the three-way struggle to be the first hurricane, he can be the second.
Celestino—A blast from the past.
Donna—Federal aid will come quickly.
Edith—Bornn or Woods, depending on the wind direction.
Foncie—A master blaster for certain.
George—At least, WAPA will be spared.
Hyacinth—My personal favorite; this storm will leap right over us.
Isidor—For the record, to be sure.
Jeffrey—No, no, we don't want him.
Katrina—The telephones won't dare go out.
Mario—At least Frederiksted will be spared.
Nick—The storm will end up beyond the reef.
Orville—Never met a hurricane he couldn't outthink.
Paul—Truly a hurricane to be leery of.
Roy—Every hurricane needs its shepherd.
Shaun—This storm will ride the Internet.
Tito—Nothing but blustery winds.
Verne—No mere hurricane can stand up to him.
There's no doubt my list can do with a little touching up. Your suggestions are welcome. I should warn you, however, we're going to have to really push the national hurricane center to accept our list.
It turns out the NHC (www.nhc.noaa.gov) uses a six-year list of names, which are selected by something called the World Meteorological Organization. When six years are up, they start all over with the same names. The only way a name gets dropped is when its hurricane causes severe damage. For example Hugo was dropped years ago in favor of Humberto, and Marilyn will become Michelle in 2001.
Once a year the WMO meets, probably in some hurricane-proof watering hole such as Paris or Rome, to make those kinds of changes. It's clear, isn't it, that the Virgin Islands should send a delegation to the next conference to make certain that wimpy Lenny is dropped in favor of Lorraine, and that the remainder of our list also is adopted.
I volunteer to lead the delegation. Perhaps the chair of the Senate Finance Committee will see her way clear to sponsor a modest appropriation for this purpose.
Editors' note: Frank J. Jordan is an editor for the Source, a local radio commentator, former UVI journalism professor, and former NBC News executive.