In the face of Hurricane Emily’s approach on Saturday afternoon, managers at Cox Lumber said they were selling between 800 and 1,000 sheets of plywood, but were out of oil lamps, oil and propane gas to fuel portable stoves.
Similarly, Kirk Supermarket had run out of ‘D’ batteries, but, like Cox, was otherwise well stocked to meet demand.
Meanwhile, flights at Owen Roberts International Airport were departing as usual, as Director of Airports Authority David Frederick toured the complex, saying he was looking forward to closing only 90 minutes earlier than the usual 9pm.
‘We had to bring in a few extra workers to work a longer shift than normal, about eight people to work the baggage,’ he said, ‘and the extra flights have created some extra demands on the staff, so we are running late shifts,’ but nothing else appeared to be out of the ordinary, Mr. Frederick said.
Supplies of batteries at Kirk, said General Manager Michael Blackmore, had not arrived from overseas suppliers, but stocks of water and food were holding out.
‘A lot of customers had bought their supplies the previous week,’ he said, referring to the approach last Saturday of Hurricane Dennis, ‘and they did not use them, so we are not overrun, although Friday and Thursday sales were strong.’
Most sales were of tinned food, water and UHT milk, he said.
‘We sell a lot of corned beef, Vienna sausages, tuna fish, cleaning bleach, water, long life milk, biscuits and dried cookies,’ he said.
The biggest job would be closing down the operation after Kirk shut its doors to the public at noon.
‘We have to lock down everything, move the product out of display cases and move the fresh meat and frozen foods,’ he said.
Display cases were at floor level, and needed to be turned off to avoid short circuits and other problems in case of flooding. The food would be protected in cases at the rear of the supermarket.
‘Then we have to board up the place,’ he said, which took several hours, meaning that staff would not be able to leave for home until about 4pm.
By noon, managers at Cox Lumber were already beginning to build protective plywood
walls over the front doors, while a steady stream of buyers carried off crates of concrete
nails, sandbags, flashlights, batteries and screws.
‘Business has been steady, but people are not as panicky as they were before Ivan,’ said
Cayman Operations Manger Paul Tibbetts. ‘People are better prepared and being a little
smarter this time.’
Spray foam, for sealing doorways, and duct tape were also in short supply, but otherwise,
said Assistant Manager Jason Swaby, the only developing shortage was time.
Mr. Tibbetts said it took about two hours to close up the store, but that Cox would remain
open as normal.
At Owen Roberts, only half of the eight airlines that operate regular flights to Cayman were processing any flights at all.
‘There is a little higher volume of passengers than normal,’ said shift supervisor Davis Barrington, but otherwise it was business as usual.
‘Yesterday, we had a lot of people, but it was more like a constant steady flow. There was no big rush,’ Director Frederick said.
‘I am here all day and was here all yesterday and I’ll be here until we’re done,’ he said.