Gustav overpowers utility poles

For a stretch of a thousand feet or more along the Queen’s Highway, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Gustav turned utility poles into kindling, downing the wires that had carried both electricity and telephone services.

Just west of Barefoot Beach Gardens on Grand Cayman’s northeast coast, at least10 poles were torn in two, all at different heights and all leaving different patterns of twisted shards.

The first official assessment was made early Saturday morning by Caribbean Utilities Company supervisor Cindy Powell, who recorded the damage and sprayed paint to mark problems for the repair crews that would follow.

Veteran CUC employee Gary Whittaker said teams had gone out from 6am to work at other sites around the island before arriving on the Queen’s Highway. There was little the linesmen could do until the pole stumps could be pulled, dug or drilled out to make way for replacement poles.

The job was made more difficult because most of the poles were embedded in rock. A six-man team from Mastec, contracted to install concrete poles elsewhere, joined the efforts.

Island residents were either busy with their own clean-up efforts or else they heeded requests from the National Emergency Operations Centre to stay away from the Queen’s Highway as several crews worked non-stop. The last electricity connection was made just before midnight.

On Sunday, when Cable and Wireless teams installed new telephone cables, the story was slightly different. There was traffic from both directions, but at least drivers took their time and gave way so that vehicles could pass the work sites without getting unduly hampering progress.

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