Today’s Editorial November 07: Prepare for the worst

The Cayman Islands is in for a big storm.

How close it will come and how strong it will be is not known yet. But Paloma is expected to come very close to all three of the Cayman Islands.

As of Thursday, the National Hurricane Service believed the storm would pass less than 25 miles west of Grand Cayman as a Category 2 hurricane. However, the NHC acknowledged the storm could intensify even more before it passed the Cayman Islands.

Any hurricane coming from the south and passing that close to Grand Cayman is very dangerous because it will bring high winds and storm surge to both the south and west coasts and will likely cause severe damage to our precious Seven Mile Beach.

In 2001, Hurricane Michelle took a path similar to Paloma. Even though it passed 150 miles west of Grand Cayman, it caused $28 million of damage. A storm passing 25 miles or less from the same direction could cause significantly more damage, especially if it were to intensify to a major hurricane of Category 3 or above. Some computer guidance models predict Paloma to do just that.

Although we don’t know exactly what to expect, we should prepare for the worst. For those who thought the hurricane season was over after the recent cold spell and took your shutters down, you need to put them back up; Paloma could be very powerful.

Hopefully, residents have kept their hurricane supplies on hand and have not eaten all their canned goods; if they have, they need to go get new supplies immediately.

All hurricane preparations should be rushed to completion by Friday afternoon. Tropical Storm conditions are expected by Friday evening.

This is not a storm to be taken lightly. Just because it is late in the hurricane season does not mean there can’t be severe hurricanes. In fact, the most deadly hurricane ever to impact the Cayman Islands – the 1932 Hurricane – hit on 7 November, exactly 76 years ago today. The storm killed 109 people in the Cayman Islands, mostly on Cayman Brac.

Unlike the residents of the Cayman Islands in 1932, we have the advantage of satellite imagery, television and Internet communications and vast advancements in meteorological sciences over the past 76 years. We know where Paloma is, where it is most likely to go, and the atmospheric conditions that will affect the development of the system.

We all need to take advantage of these scientific advancements and rush to completion all steps to protect life and property.

We need to prepare for the worst and pray for the best.

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