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Mauritius: A Land of Beauty

Date Added: October 18, 2012 10:52:00 PM
Author: Admin
Category: Travel

Mauritius is a beautiful place to go on a holiday, but it can also be a little bit frightening if there happens to be a cyclone while you're there.  In this article, we'll take a look at some of the precautions and actions you can take if that worst-case scenario comes up while you're there on your vacation. Everyone has heard of the widespread damage done by Katrina in the US a few years ago, and more recently, the state of emergency declared on the approach of hurricane Irene in New York when the subway shut down for the first time. Well, Mauritius is also regularly visited by hurricanes every summer. Here in the Indian Ocean, hurricanes are called cyclones. If the USA, mighty as it is, seems to be regularly battered by hurricanes with widespread flooding and loss of lives, how does a small island like Mauritius cope with them? Let explain. You’ll first notice that I say Mauritius is visited by cyclones and not battered by them. This is because there is no widespread damage done. In fact, the passage of cyclones is welcome every year to fill up the reservoirs with fresh water. The island being small, only has a small catchment area. Cyclones bring two major conditions: excessive rain and strong wind.


Mauritians are lucky to avoid widespread flooding due to the geography of the island. The centre is on a high plateau and slopes down to the coastal areas. The high plateau attracts a lot of rainfall all the time so many rivers have been formed over millennia to drain the inland regions. During cyclonic periods, these same rivers carry water quickly to the sea. Some areas may experience local flooding if houses have been built on a marsh plain, in a valley, if a river bursts its bank or canals are blocked with detritus. But these are uncommon and flooding is not extensive.


The more damaging effect of cyclones in Mauritius are the winds and they bring little benefit, apart from clearing the air a little and getting rid of a few dead branches in the forests! Many trees and branches fall and bring down electricity poles and cables. So it can be quite dangerous to go out after a cyclone when there are electric cables lying on the street in pools of water. Houses are immune however as nowadays, all houses are completely built of bricks and mortar, including the roofs, except perhaps in thatched villas at a few luxury hotels, for example at La Pirogue. So you don’t need to worry about your house or roof being blown away. The widespread effect felt after the passage of a cyclone in Mauritius is without doubt the lack of fresh local vegetables as these are quite fragile and get easily damaged in strong winds and heavy rainfall. Prices of these vegetables go up a lot.


So what do all this mean for tourists caught in a cyclone on the island? They’ll be in no real danger as long as they take a few precautions. Listen to the weather reports regularly. A warning system of classes 1 – 4 is used, 4 being the most severe. When a Class 2 is issued, schools close; with a Class 3, all offices close. You are advised to stay indoors when there is a Class 3 or more After the cyclone is gone, Class 4 is removed, however do not venture outside immediately as winds are still strong and there could be electrical cables lying around. Do not venture near rivers or lakes. This is how people often lose their life. If your accommodation is damaged and you are at risk during the cyclone, neighbouring shelters are advertised on the radio. Stock up on food, batteries and candles as the electricity supply may get cut off. If you are spending your holiday in a hotel or luxury resort, then there is little you’ll have to do. The staff is used to dealing with cyclones every year and will tell you what to do, not to venture at sea and will provide indoors entertainment to keep you occupy. Dealing with cyclones is no big business if you are prepared for it, like with every thing else. Don’t build your houses of wood or they will get blown away. Keep rivers and canals clear to drain rainwater quickly and most importantly, don’t venture outside or at sea during a cyclone. If you are ever stuck in a cyclone in Mauritius, then take it as a little excitement and watch how the locals deal with it.

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