Tibbetts wants shutter programme

Property owners in Cayman may be required to install hurricane-resistant shutters for the windows of their businesses, homes and apartments if Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts gets his way.

However, Mr. Tibbetts said it’s uncertain at this point what precise measures would be used to ensure property owners’ compliance.

‘The idea is to bring all of the inventory up to where they are shuttered, and from here on in all new structures will have to be shuttered,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

The leaders of both the Cayman Islands’ major political parties, as well as National Hurricane Committee Chairman Donovan Ebanks, have recently said better efforts must be made to protect doors and windows of properties from storms.

‘We do have a programme that we’re looking at very seriously. (Mr. Ebanks) had discussed with elected members several weeks ago…the need to be looking at the long-term methodology of making sure people’s homes were shuttered rather than the ad-hoc, as needed supply of plywood,’ he said.

Mr. Tibbetts said all six districts in the Cayman Islands did receive plywood in the days before the outer bands of Hurricane Dean struck. But he admitted it was impossible to account for how many homes were supplied.

He urged those who did get plywood to take care of it and reuse it in the event another storm strikes Cayman.

The arrival of Dean did provide the government with some extra incentive to get a shuttering programme under way.

‘While the decision wasn’t made because of Hurricane Dean, it certainly pushed it to the fore again,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

Mr. Tibbetts said there could be some new requirement placed in the Development and Planning Law that new structures would have to be shuttered properly before they were given final approval.

He also said the government could require that all home rebuilds or repairs done as part of the National Recovery Fund programme must include hurricane-resistant shutters. The fund was established to help residents reconstruct their properties in the aftermath of 2004’s Hurricane Ivan.

Requirements for already existing homes or businesses might be more difficult to implement and enforce.

For instance, not everyone who owns property in Cayman lives here. Some landlords live only part-time in Cayman, other frequent vacationers often rent out their properties while they are off island.

Mr. Tibbetts believes insurance companies could help encourage those property owners to shutter their buildings.

‘I believe that the insurance companies are the key,’ he said. ‘If premium levels…can be related to premises being shuttered properly then certainly most people…will choose to have proper shuttering.’

‘I’m not suggesting that’s a perfect answer, but it is perhaps the most logical approach to ensure that it is done.’

Mr. Tibbetts said ‘draconian legislation’ could be used to require every single home in Cayman to have storm-resistant shutters. However, he said the government would still have to come up with a programme to provide shutters for people who couldn’t afford them.

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