Earlier this month we heard reports of a deadly cyclone in Burma and shortly afterwards an equally devastating earthquake in China.
These heartbreaking natural disasters are timely reminders that we too should always maintain an attitude of preparedness.
In this part of the world, Sunday, 1 June, marks the start of the 2008 hurricane season. And while it will run for six calendar months, experience has taught us that nature does not necessarily fit neatly into man’s schedule.
Earlier this year, experts from Colorado State University’s Atmospheric Science Department forecasted an above-average major hurricane landfall risk for the Caribbean Basin this season. Included in this forecast are 15 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major storms of category three or greater strength.
Hurricane possibilities are an unavoidable fact of life in the Cayman Islands, and so preparation for the storm season should be an automatic response for us as well.
I feel confident that it was our preparedness as individuals, as families and as a country that assisted our journey through a longer-than-usual 2007 hurricane season. Tropical Strom Andrea formed in early May, and served to remind us of the risks of complacency.
But it is not only hurricanes that can be unpredictable. There are other natural and man-made disasters to which we are also vulnerable, and they often do not offer as much, if any, warning. Being prepared for these is equally important.
For these reasons Hazard Management Cayman Islands has designated Monday, 16 June, as our National Day of Preparedness. It is my hope that everyone who calls these Islands home will dedicate the day to activities such as refining family disaster plans, assessing hurricane supplies and ensuring that yards are clear of debris.
Additionally, it will be a good time to check that your smoke detectors have working batteries; that you have a fire extinguisher; and to plan or review your home, school and employment disaster escape routes and meeting points.
Government’s No. 1 priority is keeping you safe and informed regarding disasters. But even though national plans have been implemented through Hazard Management Cayman Islands, a large part of preparedness responsibilities still lies in your hands.
Whatever the type of disaster – be it fire, earthquake or hurricane — it is the safety of our loved ones that will matter most at the end of the day. Let us therefore make an extra effort to secure their survival by taking the time to make preparations on Monday, 16 June. It is not only the responsible thing to do; it will also help you and your family to get through a disastrous event with as little harm as possible.
Kurt Tibbetts – Leader of Government Business