Sister Islands hit hard

Two British Warships have arrived on Cayman Brac to help the Sister Islands rebuild after Hurricane Gustav brought widespread damage to the islands overnight.

Power lines were down, roads were strewn with debris, boats were beached and roofs were torn from houses after the centre of the category-1 hurricane passed just west of the islands Friday evening.

Awaiting news

Awaiting news at the Aston Rutty Centre storm shelter on Cayman Brac. Photo: Ed Beaty

Little Cayman was the worst affected after coming within 25 miles of the storm’s center.

“Its very, very clear that the damage over here on Little Cayman is much more significant than on Cayman Brac,” said District Commissioner Ernie Scott shortly after doing an aerial survey of the island aboard a helicopter from the HMS Iron Duke.

“Its pretty clear from our aerial assessment of the island that there is roof damage to just about every property.”

Mr. Scott said every dock on Little Cayman was either severely damaged or destroyed and four or five dive boats were washed ashore in the storm.

“The south road along Little Cayman has been breached by sand and rock in six to seven areas and there is also a fair amount of flooding on the road,” he noted.

Little Cayman is expected to remain without power for the next few days, but by 3pm Saturday, power had been restored to about 75 per cent of customers on the Brac.

There were no reports of significant injuries on either island although one couple required medical attention after being swept off a dock while taking pictures on Little Cayman Saturday evening.

432 Cayman Brac residents passed the storm out in three government hurricane shelters, while only 14 people went to the Little Cayman shelter.

HMS Iron Duke is expected to stay on Cayman Brac but a second British Navy warship that has been trailing the storm, HMS Wave Ruler, is expected to head to Grand Cayman to offer its assistance.

While no curfew was imposed in the Cayman Islands, authorities were urging residents on the Sister Islands to stay off the roads while workmen cleared debris.

Cayman Airways was due to resume flights to the Sister Islands Saturday evening after closing operations and moving its fleet of aircraft to secure locations in Florida.

Little Cayman bore the brunt of Gustav when the centre of the storm passed 25 miles south south-west of the island at around 10pm Friday.

“The storm passed almost over Little Cayman … so naturally, they got a bigger blast than either the Brac or Grand Cayman,” said the district commissioner.

Mr. Scott paid tribute to emergency crew now working to help the islands get back on their feet.

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