Today’s Editorial for September 2: Don’t become complacent

We have to commend the men and women on the front lines as Hurricane Gustav threatened the Cayman Islands Friday night and Saturday.

Getting through this storm is proof positive that the Cayman Islands was better prepared for this storm than most in recent history.

It appears we have learned our collective lesson.

But we can’t let the fact that Gustav was a mere inconvenience to most of us let our guard down.

We must be ever-vigilant in our efforts to ensure that we are prepared for any and all hurricanes.

As of this writing Hanna has been named a hurricane. While Hanna doesn’t pose a threat to the Cayman Islands, there are two other systems in the Atlantic that we need to keep our eyes on.

One is already a tropical depression and the other threatens to make some kind of formation.

Hurricane Ivan caught us with our guard down in 2004 because we had been lulled into a false sense of security. We had gone years without a major hurricane threatening our Islands.

Frankly, we just got complacent.

And we paid for it.

This time around we saw people moving their vehicles to higher ground faster than in the past and plywood was made available for those who needed it from elected officials.

Communication seemed to be a bit better this time around too, although it is something we can all strive to improve each time Mother Nature sends us ill winds.

We would still like to see a member of the media on the Cayman Islands Hazard Management Council when it holds emergency meetings during storms.

While we appreciated the regular updates before, during and after the storm, we have to wonder what is going to happen in a major storm when communication efforts fail as electricity is shut down, radio stations can’t broadcast and Internet and email capabilities are lost.

Most hazard management offices in hurricane-prone areas in the United States have emergency operations centres geared specifically for the media.

Members of the media literally camp out at the EOC’s during disasters and are able to disseminate information more quickly than what is done in the Cayman Islands.

Too, members of the media know how to most effectively use their own tools to get the message out.

We appreciate the committees’ need and desire for accuracy in media reports; that’s our goal too.

As Hurricane Gustav was coming toward the Cayman Islands there were media houses broadcasting and posting misinformation. If members of those media houses had been in a central location with the people issuing the information we don’t think as many errors would have been made.

The media in the Cayman Islands – specifically the Caymanian Compass and Radio Cayman – are committed to providing the most accurate and up-to-date information as possible.

The committee needs to find a way to let the media partner with them in an effort to more effectively communicate with the public at large.

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