With the wind still gusting and almost no visibility, Certificate and Badge of Honour recipient Mr. Leroy ‘Lee’ Elliott answered the call to duty in helping out during and after Hurricane Ivan.
A dependable, reserved and unassuming individual, his civic pride is evident when he shares his story.
‘It was about 4pm on Sunday [12 September] when there was a knock at our door. The West Bay police asked for my assistance with my back-hoe in moving the downed electrical and telephone poles and dangerous debris from the road to make it passable for any emergency vehicles to come through. I worked into the night, until visibility became virtually nil, and then went back to work early the following morning. Although it was very frightening, Cayman is my home and I wanted to ensure that my community was able to recover as quickly as possible.’
As the owner of a backhoe and trucking service, and despite his own personal dilemma, Mr. Elliott was committed to helping others as well.
‘My home in West Bay was flooded up to two feet and our sofa floated from the front living room to the back of the house like a child’s toy on the ocean. We definitely had problems at home but my wife agreed that since I was able to help, I should go ahead and put my equipment to work.’
He continued providing debris removal in the weeks that followed, working tirelessly seven days a week from morning to night, while helping his family to restore their home as well.
This was not the first time that Mr. Elliott was able to offer his services to the community.
In 2001 during Hurricane Michelle, he assisted in the cleanup effort around West Bay. He was also one of the first with his back-hoe, on the scene at the Turtle Farm, and was able to save countless turtles.
‘I am very honoured to have been chosen for my work in the community, and I know it makes my family proud too. Some of my family has been living here for almost 20years and this is our home, so whatever I can do to help restore its beauty and help keep us safe, I will do.’
Originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica, where he operated his own heavy equipment service for 16 years, Mr. Elliott came to Cayman for the first time in 1996. He is married to Darlene Owens-Elliott, JP (Registering Officer for the elections in West Bay), and has five children and four stepchildren. He attends the John Gray Memorial United Church.