Gustav shifts, more of a threat to Cayman

As Tropical Storm Gustav inches closer to the Cayman Islands, the subcommittees of Hazard Management Cayman Islands reports it has plans in place to support the Islands during and after the storm.

‘Supplies have been checked, government buildings on all three islands have been shuttered, and the government hospitals, including Faith Hospital, are ready,’ said HMCI’s Director Barbara Carby. ‘Shelters are ready to receive persons, and government is working closely with the business and tourism sectors, to keep an open flow of two-way information.’

Gustav's forecast eye path

Gustav’s forecast eye path.
Image: Cayman Islands Meteorological Services

The Cayman Islands remained under a Hurricane Watch as Tropical Storm Gustav turned southwest overnight and is strengthening.

The shift in track will now bring it very close to Grand Cayman Friday.

Gustav’s centre is expected to pass very close to Jamaica later today.

The forecast is for Gustav to become a Category 1 hurricane near Grand Cayman early Friday afternoon and Grand Cayman is also likely to start experiencing hurricane-strength winds early Friday evening.

Tropical storm-force winds are likely to start affecting Grand Cayman early Friday afternoon.

At 4am the centre of Tropical Storm Gustav was located near 17.8 N 75.6 W, or 392 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman, and 305 miles southeast of the Sister Islands. Gustav is near stationary, with maximum sustained winds near 70mph with higher gusts.

As Gustav threatens the Cayman Islands, the airports and airlines, as well as Tourism and Immigration officials, are working together to assist passengers with their travel plans. And specifically on the Brac, the Sister Islands Emergency Committee is ready. Ms Carby also noted that the Red Cross and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service have increased their Brac staffing and volunteer levels.

‘The level of cooperation, as well as collaboration, is quite good,’ she said. ‘This is the time for everyone to work together, and that is happening.’

This level of cooperation is also happening in the communities, she observed.

‘We’re hearing reports of how persons have prepared themselves for Gustav, and also how they are assisting one another, including our elderly, single mothers with children, and persons who may have difficulties getting ready.

‘Coming from Jamaica, I know how people prepare there,’ Ms Carby said. ‘But I’m seeing a level of preparedness here that supports all I was told about Cayman before I arrived here. It also bears what I’ve seen for myself over the past two years. The people of Cayman know how to prepare, and they look after each other.’

HMCI and its partner subcommittees are continuing to closely monitor Gustav and to refine preparations in response. Residents are urged to listen and heed local news reports, which have been developed specifically for Cayman.

‘Advisories from the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, and information on the Internet, can be helpful. But they are not written from the particular Caymanian context and perspective,’ Ms Carby explained. ‘So it’s important to distinguish these from local advisories issued by HMCI’s Joint Communications Service, or JCS.

‘Among other information, these JCS advisories provide storm proximity to the Cayman Islands; the estimated time for weather conditions to begin to affect us; and tell the public when to expect the next local update.’

In addition to staying tuned to local media for JCS advisories, residents will find local weather information on www.gov.ky and www.caymanprepared.ky. On CaymanPrepared, persons can sign up for local alerts to be delivered right to their e-mail addresses. Click ‘resources,’ then ‘e-mail alerts,’ and follow the simple prompts.

Residents also can subscribe to Ktone, a local, free service that sends short text-message updates to cell phones. Visit www.ktone.ky, click ‘create an account,’ and check the box under ‘All Government Information Services.’

Residents can also log on to www.caycompass.com for all updates and charts.

Ms Carby reminded the public that being ready, and staying informed, will help Cayman to better weather any hazard.

‘All storms have their own personalities,’ Ms Carby said, ‘and Gustav is no different. Predictions are made on the best information available, but they are just that: predictions. They can change in a matter of hours.

‘But by working together – government, the private sector, and residents – we can prepare and recover from this and any hazard in the best way possible.’

• Residents are advised to secure loose materials in yards and on jobsites.

• Farmers and pet owners should ensure that precautions are taken to protect animals.

• Residents should always be in a state of readiness during hurricane season. Among other activities, this would include:

• Having food and medicine supplies

• Having shuttering supplies

• Having important documents, including travel documents, in order

• Looking after marine interests

• Having a pet safety plan

• Checking your generator and having fuel

• Making sure that your family, and persons who will be staying with you in the event of a storm, are aware of the plan.

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