January 2005 arrived in the Cayman Islands with everyone looking at the mounds of debris left over from Hurricane Ivan and wondering if it would ever all be cleaned up.
Pilar Bush was named the new director for the Department of Tourism and General Wesley Clarke came to the Cayman Islands with a word of warning. He told everyone in the Cayman Islands that the easy part of Ivan was over.
Now, he said, was the hard part – recovery.
January also saw the introduction of US Federal Emergency Management trailers to the Cayman Islands. The trailers were to be used to house people who had been left homeless by the hurricane.
A census taken of students in the Cayman Island’s Government Schools showed that the student numbers since Hurricane Ivan were continuing to increase and approaching the September 2004 figures.
Shipments of cars destroyed in Hurricane Ivan began leaving he island.
Members of the Legislative Assembly turned their attention to teen drivers and beefed up the rules under which teenagers are governed when they are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. The move was made to help reduce the number of fatalities on Cayman’s roadways.
Crime turned its ugly head to Cayman in March when a 28-year-old man was shot and killed at the George Town Hospital in an incident police referred to as two groups retaliating among themselves.
It was also the month that Foster’s Food Fair re-opened its store at the Strand and the agreement between Caribbean Utilities Company and the Cayman Islands Government died.
Insurance Company Dyoll went bust in March and a plan was revealed for high schools in West Bay and North Side on Frank Sound Road.
Foster’s Food Fair, which had been a blessing to many in the Cayman Islands by opening its doors to shoppers on Sundays after Hurricane Ivan, stopped the practice. They’ll remain closed on Sundays until the Sunday Trading Laws are changed.
Election posturing heated up in April as candidates sparred at district forums.
The Dart Family Park finally opened with a festive ceremony in April on South Church Street in George Town.
April was the month that 85-year-old Beatty Thompson and 69-year-old Bensley Scott went missing at sea and work on Camana Bay began in earnest with a groundbreaking.
May was the month that the Cayman Islands saw a major change in Government when the People’s Progressive Movement Party made a clean sweep with all nine of its candidates winning in their districts.
A new Cabinet was named and the new Government took office.
A new veterinarian school for the Cayman Islands was announced in May to help fill a growing worldwide need for veterinary universities.
Crime and shootings continued in May.
It seems that someone forgot to tell weather systems that it was too early for hurricane season. The first storm to threaten the Caribbean – Adrian – formed in Mid-May.
The first tropical storm of the official hurricane season paid attention to the calendar and brought loads of rain to the Cayman Islands. Tropical Storm Arlene was just the first of a heavy season of storms that wreaked havoc throughout the Caribbean and the US.
Island Air had to discontinue its domestic flights to the Sister Islands because of high fuel costs, insurance premiums, business costs and subsidised Government competition. Ten employees lost their jobs. The air service does only charters now.
Sadness engulfed the entire country when Cayman business pioneer and founder of Foster Food Fair Group, David Foster, died 3 July following a lengthy illness. His absence is still felt throughout the Cayman Islands.
Tropical Storm Dennis formed in the Atlantic Basin and looked likely to make a path to the Cayman Islands. An announcement of a $10 million shopping centre slated for Savannah was made.
Dennis bypassed the Cayman Islands but Tropical Storm Emily began grandstanding. This time Cayman prepared like never before. Hurricane Emily stayed far enough south of Grand Cayman to bring only rain and gusty winds.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police announced a zero tolerance policy on crime.
A bill to put restraints on Cabinet being able to grant the right to be a Caymanian was passed into law in the Legislative Assembly. The move put an end to wholesale grants of status by Cabinet.
The West Bay cruise facility, on the drawing board for years, was nixed.
The remaining Mosquito Research Control Unit’s plane skidded off the Owen Roberts International runway briefly closing the airport and putting an end to the plane’s life. The other plane had been damaged in Ivan. The wreck meant that mosquito controllers would have to return to the old method of truck spraying to combat the pests.
The Queen’s Baton made its way through they Cayman Islands and Tropical Depression Nine was forming in the Atlantic Ocean.
Gasoline prices jumped leaving driver to pay more at the pump and airline passengers to pay more at the gate.
Tourism Minister Charles Clifford told the Legislative Assembly that Spirit Airlines, the largest privately held airline in the US, was winging its way to Cayman to offer inexpensive jet service.
An armed robbery of a family living at Patrick’s Islands put the RCIP on high alert and left government officials with body guards.
Gasoline topped $4 at the pump and a new crime bill was promised.
October was the big month for Cayman Free Press as it celebrated its 40th anniversary of providing fair, unbiased and factual reporting to the people of the Cayman Islands.
Hurricane season continued and a Hurricane Watch was issued in mid October concerning Hurricane Wilma. As Wilma plodded through the Caribbean schools were closed and businesses were urged to do the same. In the end, it was just a close call as Wilma brought wind and rain and a day later high waves that battered some businesses along the coastline.
For the first time since Hurricane Ivan, residents found empty grocery store shelves and stocks were depleted because supply ships couldn’t come to the island as Wilma inched toward Florida.
The big news for Jamaicans in October was the requirement of visas for nationalists travelling to the Cayman Islands from Jamaica, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala beginning 1 November.
At the end of October Governor and Mrs. Bruce Dinwiddy bid the Cayman Islands farewell.
Driving got so bad in 2005 that in November the RCIP said it had had enough and initiated two traffic operations designed to curtail illegal overtaking on Cayman’s roads. The first two days netted 45 prosecutions for traffic offences.
Holiday revellers were in an uproar in mid November when they learned that the law banning live music and alcohol sales past midnight on Saturdays would not be changed, meaning any Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve celebrations at public places would have to end before midnight.
Tropical Depression 27 threatened, but fizzled and gas prices began to go down.
Cayman got a new governor from the UK, Mr. Stuart Jack.
And in retaliation, Jamaica invoked its own visa system on the Cayman Islands, meaning any Caymanian nationals visiting Jamaica would have to have a visa to enter that country.
As many in Cayman anxiously anticipated the grand opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, it was announced early in the month that Rock star Sheryl Crow would perform at an international media gala opening of the resort on 7 January.
This was the month too that Government and Immigration granted amnesty for overstayers. The original amnesty was for two weeks, but was extended until 6 January.
Finally, on 16 December, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman opened its doors to the public and its first guests.