Preparations for Hurricane Dean were in full swing on the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman on Friday morning and by 9 a.m. orders had gone out from both District Administrators to begin shuttering up of all Government buildings.
‘I have advised the hotels to encourage all guests to evacuate the Island,’ said Little Cayman District Officer Mr. Larry Foster. ‘However at the present time we are having trouble getting enough flights.’ Mr. Foster wants the tourists to get off, because he is concerned that PWD living quarters, which serves as the hurricane shelter for Little Cayman has quite limited space and he estimates there are about 300 people on the Island. Earlier, Little Cayman Police Officer Simon Bennett said ‘the facility can comfortably hold 50 people and we could take 100 but we would have to squeeze them in. However obviously we won’t turn anyone away.’
The shelter is located on Bluff Ridge on Spot Bay Road and Mr. Larry Foster says ‘the facility will be ready with food and water for those seeking shelter.’
Little Cayman is generally low lying with most of the development concentrated on coastal areas; Sparrow Hawk Hill offers the highest elevation at 56 feet.
When the Caymanian Compass contacted PC Bennett, he was in the process of testing a satellite phone that could provide backup communications if it was necessary in the aftermath of the storm, he also has a police radio that can communicate with Grand Cayman and the Brac.
Back in September 1988, Hurricane Gilbert travelled on a path similar to forecast track of Hurricane Dean and it took some time for contact to be re-established with Little Cayman; however there have been dramatic improvements to communications since that time.
PC Bennett explained the people in Little Cayman ‘are taking the threat posed by Hurricane Dean seriously and residents are putting up plywood on their homes and boats are coming out of the water.’
On Friday morning Deputy District Commissioner of Cayman Brac Mr. Mark Tibbetts said, the ‘Sister Island Emergency Committee has been meeting and the plans are being translated into action on the ground.
The shuttering process is well under way and started at 9am.
Guests and visitors to the Island have been made aware of the threat and we are preparing for the worst and praying for the best.’
Mr. Tibbetts added, ‘Cayman Brac is well served with three official Government shelters, the Aston Rutty Civic Centre, the West End School and Government workers can also go to the District Administration Building’
‘A number of people have now built homes on the Bluff, some people still choose to use the caves and Seaman and Veterans Centre is also hurricane rated. We now have a medical wing on the Aston Rutty Centre and we are prepared to move people out of the Faith Hospital and also the elderly from the three rest homes on the Brac.’
The Island has a population between 1,700 and 1,800 and ‘they take the threat of hurricanes very seriously’ said Mr. Tibbetts. ‘There is the usual atmosphere of unity on the Brac, neighbour is helping neighbour, the people are supporting each other and we will definitely be ready if Hurricane Dean pays us a visit.’
Cayman Brac has the highest elevation in the Cayman Islands; at the eastern end of the Island the Bluff reaches 141 feet above sea level.