About 10 volunteers turned out at the International College of the Cayman Islands recently to clean up debris from damage the college sustained during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
On 6 October, the team, comprising college faculty and students, cleaned out a section of the property, removing and disposing of some 30 damaged computers, power washing the walkways and removing debris around the property.
‘After Hurricane Ivan, we basically went into survival-and-recovery mode, and it became just a matter of our trying to remain operational. We have pretty much been working around the debris,’ Business Manager Kira Hayes explained in a press release.
There is still more work to be done and the school is asking for help from the community to tackle what could be a major task – cleaning out the old library.
The school is using the opportunity of October’s Beautification Month to clean out the clutter and damage, and to literally move on with their lives.
‘Yes, the debris was there, but you tune it out in order to just focus on getting things done. Beautification Month has forced us to literally stop and take a look at our physical space, to see what we can do to improve it, instead of working around it,’ Miss Hayes said.
April Cummings, whose parents founded the college some 38 years ago and who now lectures at the institution, commented on how well the process has progressed.
‘When we started moving out the material, it was very sad as many of items we were disposing of have been a part of our lives for so long. But after a while it became very cathartic. It started to feel like we are now so firmly anchored in the present that we are able to get rid of emotional clutter of the past in order to move on with our lives,’ she noted.
The college is a non-profit institution established in 1968 by the late Dr. Hugh Cummings and his wife Elsa. It was the first tertiary institution to be established in the Cayman Islands.
The college, which is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in Washington DC, began by offering associate and bachelor’s degrees in accounting and international finance. Its offerings have now expanded to include the Master’s in Business Administration programme.
The college is also now executing part of the Ministry of Tourism’s Apprenticeship Programme.
Ms Cummings noted that the college had sustained an estimated CI$500,000 damage during Ivan and that although the road to recovery has been challenging, the college is functioning well and meeting the needs of the 141-strong student body that it now serves.
After the hurricane passed, Dr. Cummings had to move the administrative side of the school to her home and held classes at the site of the St. Ignatius School.
The library was one of the areas hardest hit by the hurricane, with most of its 15,000 volumes lost.
Today, two new buildings have been erected with donations from the community, but the old library, with its roof partially missing, still sits water-logged, a mix of salvageable and damaged books still on the shelves.
‘We have begun the tedious process of sorting through the books to return to the library system those that survived the hurricane,’ Ms Cummings said, adding that some of the book will be kept for their historic and the sentimental value.
In the meantime, she said, the college is also appealing for donations of books. ‘Business is such a dynamic field and the books change so quickly, we really need donations to get our library back up to par,’ she said.
Ms Cummings expressed gratitude to the community for the help which it has given so far. For example, the Kiwanis Club donated furniture for the school’s lounge.
Saturday’s work was originally scheduled 10am to 5pm, but the efficient work crew was able to complete the projects in about half the time.
Ms Cummings appealed for support in the final phase of its post-Ivan recovery – salvaging what is possible from the old library, and moving on, but the task is such a mammoth one that they need all the help they can get from the community.
‘We did not issue an appeal for community assistance for Saturday’s clean up, but we are asking for help to tackle the library as that is going to be a difficult one,’ she said.