Today’s Editorial July 14: Everyone must heed evacuation orders

People in areas deemed unsafe during severe weather have been put on notice.

If an evacuation order is issued you’d better heed it or face being arrested.

We understand why Government takes such a rigid stand in the new Cayman Islands Hurricane Plan.

People who refuse to leave their homes for safer shelter during a storm are doing more than just putting themselves and their families in harms way.

They also jeopardize the lives of rescue personnel, such as police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians or anyone whose job it is to save people.

People refuse to ignore evacuation orders for several reasons, but the two most popular are that they don’t want to leave behind their pets or they don’t want to leave their homes so they can protect their property.

Evacuation orders should be obeyed. They are made by the Governor only after a recommendation comes from the Chairman of the National Hurricane Committee, who will have consulted with other committee members as well as weather officials.

But is arrest of people who ignore evacuation orders really feasible?

Where would they be taken; to prison?

Would there be enough available safe spaces to house all the evacuation order offenders?

What about the pets that would be left behind?

The Government is certainly right. There must be some way to enforce mandatory evacuation orders so that everyone is safe.

Most of us who remained on Grand Cayman during Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 remember vividly the heart-wrenching calls to Radio Cayman from people who didn’t leave their homes who were begging for help as water rose and ceilings caved in around them.

In one Gulf Coast town in the United States police and Coast Guard members go door-to-door when a mandatory evacuation has been issued during a hurricane.

If someone hasn’t evacuated they ask for the name, address and telephone number of the next of kin who lives out of the area so they can be notified in the event of death.

And they tell the evacuation order rejecters that no one will come and rescue them.

In many instances that last visit prompts folks to leave and get out of harms way.

It is hoped that everyone listens to the Governor during severe weather and heeds mandatory evacuation orders.

We hope Government doesn’t have to start arresting people because of their hard-headedness.

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