MC Restoration, which was instructed to stop Hurricane Ivan debris processing more than nine weeks ago, said it needs to get back to work soon or it will ship its specialty equipment off the island.
On 9 May, just two days before the general election, MC Restoration received letters from Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor and Benjamin Bodden of James Lee Witt Associates instructing it to cease all debris processing immediately until further notice.
After the election, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts indicated the remaining debris removal and processing situation would be thoroughly analysed before a decision was made on how to continue.
MC Restoration owner Tom Moffitt said he has tried to be patient, but that time is running out.
In a letter to Mr. Tibbetts dated 6 July, Mr. Moffitt noted that in April, the previous government had said the processing should be completed before the beginning of hurricane season in order to prevent the debris from potentially becoming flying projectiles.
‘Also, we were requested to import additional processing equipment, and after approval from the Trade and Business Licensing Board, we imported additional equipment, but since May 10, 2005, this equipment had been inactive,’ Mr. Moffitt wrote in his letter.
The additional equipment, a second tub grinder to go with the one the company already had here, turns trees and other organic matter to mulch, Mr. Moffitt said, adding that the machine cost $300,000.
‘Unfortunately, we can no longer justify the equipment sitting at our job site idle and we will arrange to have the same shipped off-island if we are not given instructions to resume processing,’ Mr. Moffitt stated in his letter.
Although MC Restoration has already reached and exceeded the collection of 300,000 cubic yards of debris that served the basis for its original contract, much more debris remains.
Mr. Moffitt said in an interview Tuesday there are 50,000 cubic yards of debris at its Frank Sound site awaiting processing.
The Cayman Islands Recovery Operation estimated as much as 400,000 cubic yards of debris remains to be collected on Grand Cayman, much of it downed trees.
‘We estimate there are still 8,000 large trees that need to be collected and processed,’ Mr. Moffitt said.
If MC Restoration is not used to complete the Hurricane Ivan debris processing, Mr. Moffitt said the task could take much longer to complete.
Local contractors do not have the equipment to mulch the trees in a timely manner, he said.
Complicating matters is the fact tub grinders are now in high demand in the area of the United States Gulf Coast after Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricane Dennis made landfall in there, Mr. Moffitt said.
‘I’ve already had some calls from Mobile (Alabama) asking about the availability for the tub grinder,’ Mr. Moffitt said. ‘There’s probably a waiting list now if you wanted to buy one.’
Mr. Moffitt said MC Restoration had procured the Frank Sound processing site even though the Cayman Islands Government was required by the contract to provide a suitable site.
‘We’re paying for that on a monthly basis, so the Government owes us for that,’ he said.
Should the Government decide not to use MC Restoration to complete the debris processing job, it would have to determine what to do with the 50,000 cubic yards of debris currently there, Mr. Moffitt said, noting that the Government had brought the debris there from other temporary processing sites.
Mr. Moffitt stated in his letter to Mr. Tibbetts that MC Restoration stands ready to complete the project.
‘We take great pride in the accomplishment of bringing together all of the various local Caymanian contractors and individuals that have participated in this contract for the clean-up,’ he wrote.
‘We are pleased with all the support we have received from the majority of the Caymanians.
‘We do not want to leave a job unfinished, but we have waited over eight weeks for specific directions and instructions and we will have no other alternative but to ship our processing equipment off the island if we are not instructed to resume with the processing,’ he stated.