It could’ve been worse.
That was the first thought Norah Ebanks had after returning to her home in Prospect to survey the damage caused by what appeared to be a tornado that ripped through the neighbourhood early Saturday afternoon.
‘I just thank the Lord nobody was hurt,’ she said. ‘That’s the most important thing. It could’ve been much worse.’
Part of her roof was ripped off during the storm, and debris was littered throughout the streets. At least four homes were damaged. No injuries were reported.
Weather forecaster Alan Ebanks of the Cayman Islands National Meteorological Service said he had received reports of the tornado. However the Met Office does not have the equipment needed to detect approaching tornados.
Mr. Ebanks said it was quite possible to have tornados in Cayman.
‘It’s very rare,’ he said. ‘Most of the time we just have waterspouts and sometimes they come into the land and go right back out to sea.
‘This one though, seems more like a tornado.’
Eyewitnesses told of huge tree branches, garbage cans, plywood and debris flying through the air. Several said they saw a pick-up truck lifted in the air and dropped down a number of yards away.
Jerrin Carter, 13, was outside his home when the tornado hit at around 2pm. ‘I saw the twister coming. It was knocking and pounding. It took off (part of) Miss Norah’s roof. My mom was afraid and called 911.’
Sherryann Smith said she yelled to her son Jerrin to come inside the house. She took shelter behind some cabinets.
‘I didn’t know what it was. It was just tearing everything up,’ she said. ‘The windows started to shake like they were going to break.’
Part of her home was damaged in the forceful storm. She said the twister picked up a trampoline in their backyard and they later found it in shambles in the front yard. Echard McLaughlin said nails were sucked clean out of the shingles on the roof.
‘They came straight out. Plywood and tiles were flying by the house.’
Prospect resident Charles Ebanks also saw the twister hit.
‘I had just come home when I saw the whirler come in. I saw pieces of plywood and shingles flying by. It was scary – just the power of it.’
Alan Ebanks said the Met Office is still determining whether it was a tornado that hit.
He said the thunderstorms on Saturday were typical for this time of year. An upper level low trough sitting over Cayman added to the ferocity of the storm, he said.