I am writing on behalf of the concerned residents of Little Cayman.
We were told on Saturday as Hurricane Dean approached that there was a mandatory evacuation and that all of us must leave the island.
I spent Friday afternoon and Saturday trying to get six guests off the island when Ryan Abrahams, a Cayman Airways employee, came to my rescue late Saturday and got them off the island and into the States.
How were the residents supposed to leave when there were not enough seats on the Otter? Where were we to go when the flights to the States were full? It seems 60 guests were left behind when the last flights left Grand Cayman.
We have a concrete block constructed building in the middle of the island that is at approximately 50 foot elevation. This building serves as the Public Works Department housing.
In this building, 53 people survived Hurricane Ivan that was a Category 5 storm.
Why was it locked and why were we not allowed to use it this time? In the Friday/Sunday, Aug. 17-19 Caymanian Compass on page 7, under the headline ‘Shelters will be opened’, Little Cayman’s shelter was listed along with shelters from the other two islands that were to be opened.
Not only was our shelter locked but the power was turned off island-wide at 8am on Sunday and not turned back on until Tuesday morning. Telephone service and some Digicel cellular service was also cut off by 8pm Sunday and service was not restored until Tuesday morning. Not only were the remaining residents locked out of a shelter, but they were also unable to access information about storm position and conditions – no power, no computers, no phone, no internet – beginning, for some, as early as 8am Sunday morning. Nor were they able to contact friends or family off island to exchange information.
There were 46 people left behind on Little Cayman including a nurse, a fireman and a policeman. These people were asked to sign a waiver that they were staying of their own free will but were denied access to the safest, highest and only shelter on the island.
Why lock the hurricane shelter?
Why turn off power entirely at least 12 full hours before storm was predicted to arrive?
Why was phone service turned off before any wind had begun at all?
Who ordered this?
What would the Government’s answer be if even one life was lost because the hurricane shelter was locked – ‘They signed a waiver?’
According to Linton Tibbetts there were two power plant engineers willing – and wanting – to remain on Little Cayman who were forced to leave, creating the situation where there were no employees left to man the power plant.
Having power off from Sunday morning to Tuesday morning caused food that had been laid in by remaining folks to weather the storm and beyond to spoil and extremely limited access to information.
The two engineers could have run the power plant to provide LC with power until the storm created conditions where it needed to be turned off and power could have been turned on sooner than Tuesday morning.
The whole island is in an uproar. Are we the stepchildren here?
Gladys B. Howard