Hurricane communications improve

Emergency communications before, during and after Hurricane Gustav were hailed as a success by the head of Hazard Management Cayman Islands.

‘It showed great improvement over Dean,’ Ms Barbara Carby said. ‘In terms of us planning, we managed to get information out early and often.’

The Joint Communications Service of the Hazard Management Council started sending out notifications about a week before the storm’s arrival. As the storm got closer, more frequent updates were issued, mostly coinciding with updates from the National Hurricane Center in the US.

Ms Carby said the council planned to meet with public and private sector entities Wednesday to review operations during the storm.

Emergency managers kept in radio contact with shelter wardens and volunteers for the entire storm. Ms Carby said there were problems with a generator in one shelter, which lost power during the height of Gustav, but no other major operational issues.

The latest figures provided by government had 715 people staying in Grand Cayman storm shelters, 432 people in Cayman Brac shelters and about 14 people staying in the Little Cayman storm shelter.

‘Persons went to the shelters quite early, all shelters opened on time and they were locked down just before the height of the storm,’ Ms Carby said.

Shelters closed their doors at 10pm Friday. Fire and ambulance crews responded to calls until roughly 2am Saturday on Grand Cayman when storm conditions became too intense to venture out safely.

After the storm, some Caribbean Utilities Company vehicles and fire service trucks were found blocked in at the roundabout north of Bobby Thompson Way. Police issued an immediate advisory asking people to come move their cars.

‘There is a plan for securing government vehicles,’ Ms Carby said. ‘It’s more of an issue of monitoring. We have to sit with (those agencies) and work out how we can ensure they’re not blocked in.’

Gustav caused no significant damage to medical facilities on Grand Cayman. No damage was reported at Grand Cayman shelters, aside from a tree falling on a shelter warden’s vehicle.

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