Cayman should recover in five years

Grand Cayman should be rebuilt better than it was before Ivan in five years time.

Dr. Ian Davis, a visiting professor from the Cranfield Mine Action and Disaster Management Centre at Cranfield University in Shrivenham, Swindon, England, made the prediction Tuesday night.

‘Some people look at two years as a target, but I would say Grand Cayman should look to be totally rebuilt around five years after the event,’ he said.

His underlying message was that a nation and its people should be resilient in the face of disaster.

Images from the tsunami disaster in Asia, earthquakes in California and devastation in places like Mogadishu and other countries highlighted his lecture.

‘There is nothing you can do when a hurricane hits, but protect yourself then stand and watch and hope that it doesn’t cause too much havoc, death and destruction,’ he said.

‘It is a tribute to Grand Cayman’s business sector that they were able to get up and running again so quickly after Ivan.

‘It is very important for operations like that and vital services such as hospitals, fire, police etc to be able to pick themselves up and hit the ground running again after a major disaster.

‘It acts as a major morale booster.

‘If a major business goes under it not only affects the company involved, it can also wreck the lives of hundreds of people, depending on how many staff a company employs,’ said Mr. Davis.

‘That is why it was so important for Cayman’s businesses to do what they did and recover quickly.

‘You want a society that can absorb a shock; that can bounce back up and one that can change.

‘It is no use just rebuilding things as they were before.

‘I read of the same roofs being put back on houses after Emily hit the Caribbean and Ivan hit Cayman.

‘That’s ridiculous. The roofs and other structures need to be better and more resilient so that they withstand any future hurricanes, earthquakes or other problems far better,’ Mr. Davis said.

He noted the dangers of not clearing debris, wrecked buildings and other debris quickly after a hurricane.

‘A piece of wood picked up and propelled along by a hurricane at 90 mph or more can smash into a wall like a bullet,’ he said.

‘All that debris has to be got rid of. It can be highly dangerous.’

There are also psychosomatic problems after a disaster like a hurricane.

‘People can be troubled mentally by the after effects, particularly if they have lost close relatives, friends, their homes or a business.

‘That can devastate a person and if enough people are affected it has dramatic consequences for the country as a whole with people off work and sick.’

The National Trust for the Cayman Islands hosted the Tuesday night event at the Brasserie Conference Facilities in Cricket Square.