A group of prominent business people on Grand Cayman has begun an ambitious rebuilding project on Cayman Brac that will seek to permanently repair Hurricane Paloma damaged roofs across the island for free.
The project is being headed up by property developer Lindsay Scott, whose family hails from the Brac. Also on-board is Atlantic Star construction chief Fayed al-Rasheed, who has offered Mr. Scott an unlimited supply of top end construction workers, free of charge, to carry out the work.
Already the group has sent two large barges of zinc roofing and other building supplies to the island and crews began going house to house to assess needs and begin work last week.
Now they are asking the public to get involved by contributing to a Brac rebuilding fund recently established at AL Thompson Hardware, where members of the public will be able to donate money to buy further roofing materials.
‘We will water proof the roof, get the roof back on, fix any windows or doors that were broken so home owners can go in and have a dry place to sleep at night,’ Mr. Scott explained. ‘At that point they can start to rebuild the interiors with the help of other organisations.’
He said donating to the fund is easy. ‘No one has to write a check to anyone, it’s just a matter of going to AL Thompson and donating to the relief account and then we use that money immediately to buy zinc and simple building materials.’
Mr. Scott estimated that there are around 800 homes that need their roofs repaired or replaced.
‘The only thing that is keeping them dry right now is tarps, and those tarps will last about two weeks and then they will be in trouble again,’ he said. ‘Those homes need to be dried in as soon as possible.’
At the moment there are 11 Atlantic Star construction workers on the ground fixing roofs and the number could increase as more roofing materials reach the island.
‘We will be there until the last piece of zinc is no longer available,’ Mr. Scott stated. ‘Atlantic Star has said they will leave the workers there as long as we can continue to feed them zinc. If we have enough zinc, I would estimate that we can have all roofs on the island fixed within six months.’
The repair works will first target essential personnel – the people that replace power poles, work in grocery stores, teach children or are nurses in the island’s hospital – before moving on to other’s homes.
‘They don’t need to come home at the end of the day and jump up on the roof and try to nail down zinc. They need to come home, have a comfortable environment to sleep in so they can go back the next day and do what they do, which is helping other people.’
He said it is all about bringing back normalcy to the people that are required to bring back normalcy to everyone else.
Doing that will help strengthen the local economy, which is currently very fragile, Mr. Scott said.
‘If the economy stays down too long it could have some very negative implications,’ he warned. ‘We need to bring the Brac back online as soon as possible to protect their economy.’
Mr. Scott described Atlantic Star’s offer of a free, unlimited pool of labour as an ‘incredible contribution.’
Up to this point, the reroofing project has mainly been funded and organised by a group of Mr. Scott’s family and friends. They felt compelled to help out after Mr. Scott returned from the island a few days after the storm with frightening reports of the damage Paloma had inflicted.
‘We have all financially benefited from our association with the Cayman Islands and our Cayman Brac roots – that’s a fact. This is our way of giving back,’ he explained.
Some of the individuals and companies that have been pumping money and supplies into the project are former Senior Walkers Global Partner Frank Banks and his wife Sharon; Corporate Electric; and the children of the late Alford and Miss Teenie Scott of Cayman Brac, that run the Scott’s group of companies.
Sister Islands Deputy District Commissioner Mark Tibbetts has also been instrumental in providing on the ground co-ordination, Mr. Scott said.
AL Thompson has not only set up the relief account, but is providing the materials at a heavily discounted rate.
Others have made significant contributions anonymously.
‘We are all management type people. We run corporations and we know how to get things done,’ Mr. Scott said of some of those involved in the roofing project.
‘We are jumping in there. We know what needs to be done.’
Contributions to the reroofing funds can be made at AL Thompson’s on North Sound Road.