There has been a lot of publicity about the Cayman Islands Government’s 2006 National Hurricane Plan.
The revised hurricane and disaster plan incorporated many of the hard lessons learned from the experiences of Hurricane Ivan, almost two years ago.
In the 2006 National Hurricane Plan, the Government has not only improved previously existing elements of the plan, but added many other elements, the need for which only became apparent after going through Ivan.
Private sector businesses have also revised and improved their disaster plans over the past two years, including in them the knowledge gained from Ivan. It took the financial industry only five days to get back up and running after Ivan, but that time could possibly be reduced to a day or two now.
There is another very important group in the Cayman Islands that has also learned many lessons from Ivan, which it is putting into practice. That group is the general public.
Last year, scares from Hurricanes Dennis and Emily gave the public a chance to practice preparedness for a major storm. Many people, however, seemed panicked and unprepared for a hurricane last year, perhaps because it was so soon after Ivan.
Things certainly look like they’ve changed this year with Ernesto.
As early as last Friday morning, members of the public started doing their grocery shopping to prepare for the storm, and big crowds were out again Saturday morning. But despite being in Ernesto’s projected path, members of the public remained calm, almost business-like in their approach to the storm.
Home and lumber stores, instead of being overwhelmed as they where before Dennis and Emily, were just very busy. It could be that the public heeded advice and prepared for the hurricane season back in late May and early June as it was suggested.
Perhaps it was because Ernesto was not projected to be a terrible storm that kept people from panicking; or maybe it was the belief that if we could get through Ivan, we could get through anything.
Regardless of the reasons, it is clear that the Cayman public is much wiser about hurricanes than it was two years ago.
We might not like hurricanes, and in fact we have every reason to hate them, but we have learned how to prepare for them.