Sister Islands making good recovery

True to their nature, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac residents are quickly restoring power, fixing roads, and tending to other repairs in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav.

They estimate that life will return to normal within a week.

By Saturday night, 70 per cent of the power was restored on the Brac and road clean-ups and minor repairs on both islands were well under way, said District Commissioner Ernie Scott.

Key government and private sector buildings, and projects under way, did not seem to be affected and full airline service resumed Sunday.

Teams from Caribbean Utilities Company and Cable and Wireless arrived by Sunday afternoon to help restore service to areas still affected.

Mr. Scott and his deputy, Mr. Mark Tibbetts, led Governor Stuart Jack and other government officials on assessment tours of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Little Cayman’s District Officer Larry Foster joined the entourage during the visit to that island, as did the Royal Navy Iron Duke’s Commander Mark Newland.

They arrived in the Brac on Saturday afternoon, on the first available flight. To visit Little Cayman, they were shuttled across – four at a time – on a Lynx helicopter stationed aboard the Royal Navy’s Iron Duke. The vessel, along with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Wave Ruler, had been in the area before Gustav struck, in order to provide immediate aid to the Sister Islands if necessary.

‘Both islands – Little Cayman in particular – has suffered some damage, but we are thankful that there was no serious damage or fatalities,’ said Mr. Jack. ‘I am sure one reason we did not suffer more was that we were well prepared.’

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts recognised the residents’ hard work to push recovery along.

‘Once the storm passed and it was safe to do so, officials, work crews and individuals immediately began working to clear up debris and make repairs,’ he said.

Mr. Tibbetts also holds responsibility for District Administration.

The entourage included the Minister of Communications, Works and Infrastructure Arden McLean; Minister of Tourism, Environment, Investment and Commerce Charles Clifford and Ministry of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing Chief Officer Kearney Gomez. During the tour, government officials underscored the order to provide aid, such as water and tarpaulins, to residents.

Mr. noted that District Administration officials, as well as island residents, began to prepare for Gustav days before the storm struck on Friday afternoon. The hurricane tested the Sister Islands’ revised hazard plan, which covers communications, strategies and contingencies.

‘By all accounts, the plan provided a stable foundation for us to get through this storm as well as we did,’ Mr. Scott said.

The Aston Rutty Centre Hurricane Shelter remained open through noon Sunday for those awaiting their electricity to be restored. Shelter residents have now returned to their homes, to the Faith Hospital or the Kirkconnell Retirement Home.

Gustav may affect school openings on the Brac and Little Cayman, as final repairs and upgrades to compounds are not quite completed. Mr. Scott said that residents will be notified accordingly.

Summary of damage

Bruised and slightly battered, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac experienced minor to moderate structural damage and interruption of utility services, especially caused by Hurricane Gustav’s high winds.

On both islands some sea intrusion occurred across roads, mainly on the south coasts, but there was no significant road damage. Fallen utility poles, trees, and debris were the major obstacles.

Seaside properties and structures on the Sister Islands sustained the most damage. Many docks were destroyed or damaged, dive boats beached, and buildings and exposed items coated with a briny icing of sand and salt.

A damage assessment team will conduct a full account on both Sister Islands beginning Monday morning.

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