New hurricane plan revealed

A new Cayman Islands hurricane plan would get UK aid to this country faster than in the past in the event of disaster.

Preview of the 2006 National Hurricane Plan

From left, Chief Secretary George McCarthy, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and Deputy Chairperson of the NHC, Angela Martins at the preview of the 2006 National Hurricane Plan in the Marriott Resort Monday.
Photo: Cliodhna McGowan

Governor Stuart Jack noted that new measures will allow assistance from the UK to be forthcoming in the event of a disaster. Among the new measures that have been put in place are understandings between overseas territories and the United Kingdom, so that in the event of another disaster police reinforcements can be brought here immediately without delay. ‘That is, I think, a very encouraging new development,’ he said.

The UK government has also put in place its own structures, he said, which include better arrangements for getting humanitarian assistance to any of the overseas territories.

Lessons learned from Hurricane Ivan have been distilled into the national hurricane plan, the details of which were previewed at a meeting on Monday.

‘The improvements made to the 2006 National Hurricane Plan show the Government’s strong commitment to managing risks,’ said.

Hosted by the Government and the Chamber of Commerce at the Marriott Resort, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said,

A National Emergency Management Agency will soon be launched, said Mr. Tibbetts. This will encompass all possible threats including hurricanes and other disasters.

Its most important role will be to provide expertise on mitigation measures including revising any necessary legislation. New laws the agency will consider may include revamping ports to increase seaside setbacks and officially designating flood prone zones.

The British Government has also set up rapid deployment teams, groups of trained people who can go to the scene of a disaster and provide necessary consular assistance.

Mr. Jack noted that a very detailed contingency plan for hurricanes has been put together by the RCIPS, which gives a maximum guarantee that law and order will be dealt with effectively in a hurricane situation.

‘Among the lessons we have learned are ways to ensure maximum turnout of police officers,’ he said.

‘One of the ways to do this is to ensure that our key staff and their families are well looked after, in the right place, and have the confidence to turn out and do their jobs.’

Mr. Jack encouraged everyone in the community to be prepared and play their part in ensuring their business can recover quickly after a disaster and to help their employees.

‘You play your part and I assure you we’ll play ours,’ he said.

RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis said following difficulty in getting officers to key places following Ivan, ‘We’ll make sure we have our staff at strategic locations throughout the island so post-event those officers can be rapidly deployed.’

He added that they will be looking at making sure they take their families. ‘If their families are safe it gives them peace of mind to continue their work.’

‘The RCIP and the support agencies will ensure that we create an environment of law and order and allow you get your business up and running as quickly as possible in a very safe environment,’ he said.

In response to a question he said looting is something the RCIPS are preparing to act against.

This new 2006 document is a living plan, Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘It will continue to be modified and improved upon as we meet new challenges and learn lessons in the coming years.’

He outlined some of the ways Government has strengthened its communications.

The NHC depends on the Government radio telecommunications system, which stood strong during Ivan, with some minor interruptions of service. Provision has now been made to allow technicians to make their repairs remotely; ensuring links between all emergency services and National Hurricane Committee are uninterrupted. As a back up, the Government has invested in satellite phones for key departments.

A high tech communications bridge has been made between the main operations centres at Citrus Grove office and the Emergency Operations Centre.

A similar video will be available from Cayman Brac to keep the islands in touch.

Government websites and www. have also been backed up high on the bluff in Cayman Brac should the server in Grand Cayman falter, he said.

The 2006 plan more clearly defines the roles from the various offices, he said. It will ensure that the entire cabinet, Leader of the Opposition, MLAs and people of CI will be represented as a part of the process.

Mr. Tibbetts went on to say that all new Government buildings, including schools, will be built as multi purpose hurricane standard buildings that can double as shelters.

He challenged business owners to know plans, rehearse them and revise when necessary.

The National Hurricane Plan and recovery is a partnership between the government and all members of the community, he stressed.