No end in sight to debris

No one is predicting when residents of Grand Cayman will finish dealing with the wreckage and rubble of Hurricane Ivan.

A total of 600,000 cubic yards has been estimated.

‘The amount generated was way beyond what any of us imagined,’ said Mr. Orrett Connor, chairman of the Cayman Islands Recovery Operation.

He and CIRO Operations Manager Mr. Mark Scotland responded to reporters’ questions in a session Chief Information Officer Pat Ebanks facilitated Friday.

On the subject of debris quantity, Mr. Connor pointed to a number of unknowns, including private properties.

‘We don’t know if they will be demolished or refurbished… We still don’t know about the Tower Building,’ he said, referring to the structure on North Church Street that housed several government departments.

Mr. Scotland said well in excess of 400,000 cubic yards of debris has already been taken to disposal sites. This quantity includes the private sector and MC Restoration.

MC has collected more than 200,000 cubic yards, Mr. Scotland said. He expected the company would reach the contracted 300,000 cubic yards mark by the end of February.

There will be some processing after collection is completed, Mr. Scotland said. MC, which signed the contract in November, is already using air curtain burners and a huge wood mulcher, but a metal bailer has not arrived, he said.

Neither has MC removed any damaged cars from the Island, but a barge is being brought here for that purpose. Any shipment of vehicles has been done by others.

Once MC achieves 300,000 cubic yards and its collection period has ended, residents rebuilding need to ensure debris removal is in their contract and the contractor does it, Mr. Scotland said.

Debris removal will continue once the MC contract has expired.

‘It’s quite evident additional work will have to be done,’ Mr. Connor said. ‘We’re now starting to see construction debris coming out.’

Mr. Scotland said the contract was awarded to MC Restoration to assist with the clearing of major thoroughfares, which started with volunteers and Public Works, then to help residents clear yards and to help remove reconstruction debris.

The MC contract does not address going into apartment complexes, Mr. Scotland said. Apartment dwellers should contact private sector collectors.

‘We know private citizens are still looking to government to take the lead and we have to address that as a policy matter, bearing in mind insurance companies are paying out for debris removal in some insurance settlements,’ Mr. Connor said.

Mr. Connor said he had heard a lot of criticism about the MC contract. He noted the importance of public opinion and said people need to articulate their positions.

‘Whether it be government or private entities doing the collection, it has to be done,’ Mr. Connor observed.

Options discussed included Environmental Health, whose remit is domestic garbage. It might be difficult to divert their resources to reconstruction debris, Mr. Connor said.

There are also other entities in the private sector.

Some operators doing demolition know people who need fill, so that is working out so far, Mr. Scotland said.

Temporary disposal sites

Both men expressed appreciation for the use of various properties around Grand Cayman for temporary disposal sites.

‘Although we’ve had some trouble at storage sites and processing sites, it’s difficult to imagine where we would be without them,’ Mr. Connor said.

‘As it stands we have not paid anyone cash for use of property,’ he said. ‘Now, that may change.’ The original understanding was the landowners would benefit from the fill.

Part of MC’s contract is to restore the sites the company uses. It was also confirmed that MC pays site workers, including those who sort debris by hand.

Owners of derelict vehicles are asked to make a decision about the autos.

The temptation has been to keep them for parts but they are becoming eyesores and will need to be disposed of eventually. Now is the opportunity to get rid of them, by contacting the Vehicle Licensing Department. Staff there will contact MC Restoration.

Residents of George Town and Bodden Town are asked to put out remaining debris by 18 February for MC’s final sweep.