Mostly minor damage in Brac

A preliminary damage-assessment report relating to Hurricane Gustav’s impact on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman indicates mostly minor damage.

The report, which was based on a damage evaluation completed last Wednesday, was released to the media on Thursday after the Cabinet press briefing.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, who visited the Sister Islands immediately after Gustav passed, said the damage assessment was conducted by the Sister Islands Emergency Committee.

‘Based on this report, and my personal observations, I am much relieved to report… that despite our initial fears that both islands had sustained catastrophic damage, it appears that the damage in both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman ranges from minor to moderate and clean-up and recovery on both islands is well under way.’

With regard to housing, Cayman Brac suffered varying degrees of damage to 53 single-family dwellings. Much of the damage was limited to exterior finishes like siding, guttering, shingles, soffits, roof tiles and roof capping.

Several structures also received internal damage due to water ingress.

Similar damage was observed at resorts and condominiums, and commercial buildings had even less damage.

The most significant damage in the Brac occurred to docks, with two receiving significant damage and two totally destroyed. One boat was also totally destroyed, while two others received minor damage.

The damage in Little Cayman was more severe, but still mostly minor to moderate.

Four docks in Little Cayman were destroyed and five received significant damage.

Thirty single-family dwellings sustained damage, mostly to some exterior finishes damaged on homes in Cayman Brac. Shingles were blown off 10 homes, several condominiums and commercial buildings.

The damage assessment report made a special mention of shingles.

‘The committee observed that buildings with shingle roofs received the most damage,’ the report stated. ‘Observations of the materials blown away from structures often indicated that these materials were improperly installed.’

The subcommittee also made special mention of vinyl soffits, which it said might not be strong enough to withstand high winds.

‘These soffits either need to be strengthened or replaced with stronger materials,’ the report stated. ‘Once these soffits are damaged or removed, wind and rain easily get under the roofing material and into the buildings.’

Mr. Tibbetts said power and telephone service was expected to be restored to all residents by the end of last week.

‘I know that [Caribbean Utilities Company] has been working with Cayman Brac Power and Light to restore service on both islands, and I commend them for their spirit of co-operation and for providing this much-needed assistance to speed the recovery process,’ he said. ‘I also know that Cable and Wireless dispatched their crews as soon as possible after Gustav had passed, and they have been working diligently on both islands to restore service to their customers.’

Mr. Tibbetts recognised the efforts of District Commissioner Ernie Scott and his staff.

‘Not only did their efforts prior to the storm result in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman being prepared, their tireless efforts since the passage of the storm have resulted in the tremendous progress in the clean up,’ he said.

Mr. Tibbetts said the people of the Cayman Islands did an excellent job preparing for the storm and that it reflected lessons learned from past storm events.

‘But as can be expected with all events of this nature, the post-event assessment has highlighted some things that we can improve on.

‘For example, in order to provide a higher level of communication and to have a dedicated centre of operations on each island, my Ministry has decided to provide a fully functional command centre at the Aston Rutty Centre on Cayman Brac and in the hurricane shelter on Little Cayman,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘These shelters will be provided with marine VHF radios, 800 megahertz trunking radios, a satellite voice/data link, video conferencing and Internet.’

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