Cumber Avenue aid disputed

The government has insisted that it is doing all it can for residents of Cumber Avenue whose homes were damaged in flooding during Hurricane Paloma.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts outlined the measures being taken to improve the living conditions of people in Cumber Avenue.

Cumber Avenue residents

Cumber Avenue residents make their way through floodwater after Hurricane Paloma last month.
Photo: Jewel Levy

But residents of the road say that assistance in cleaning up mould and rodent control is still needed; they have seen little or no response from the government.

Mr. Tibbetts and Minister Anthony Eden devoted a portion of a weekly Cabinet press briefing on Thursday to giving details of what work had been done and refuting what they said were claims that the government and civil servants were shirking in their efforts to clean up Cumber Avenue following the hurricane.

‘It seems that over the past week, there have been efforts to create the contrary belief – as if the situation is being neglected. I wish to not only accurately inform the public, but to robustly refute the allegations that the elected representatives, or civil servants have been guilty of neglect.’

He said that government officials, including himself and senior members from various departments, had inspected the area shortly after the hurricane last month and determined that some residents would need help with clean-up and repairs to damaged homes, and replacement of furniture and appliances.

He said that so far, assistance provided to residents of affected households in Cumber Avenue including: cleaning and indoor disinfection of more than 20 houses; provision of cases of bleach; rodent control and garbage collection; clearing of septic tanks; provision of information on how to avoid mould growth, proper disinfection of cistern water, avoidance of food spoilage and rodent and fly control; removal of bulk waste; purchasing new furniture, such as beds, to replace the residents’ damaged items; and providing supportive counselling to families to help them deal with their trauma, and their losses.

However, Cumber Avenue resident Twyla Vargas said she knew of no family that had received help from government coffers.

‘If they have done anything here, they must have been invisible while they were doing it. If they gave anything to anyone, it must have been invisible too,’ she said.

Ms Vargas said her own home was still damp since the flooding suffered during Paloma. She insisted that she and none of her neighbours had received any of the items outlined by Mr. Tibbetts.

‘No one has received as much as a clothes pin,’ she said.

She said she knew of just one neighbour who had received replacement appliances and a bed, but those items were donated privately and not from the government.

‘The only time we’ve seen anyone here was the day when Kurt Tibbetts and the MLAs from Bodden Town came when we were all still knee deep in water. They came here and brought an engineer and looked around and we haven’t seen anyone since,’ she said.

Cumber Avenue has for several years fallen victim to flooding, since buildings constructed in the area meant water that used to drain into the North Sound could no longer do so.

The National Roads Authority is considering bringing in engineers to find the root of the problem of flooding in Cumber Avenue, Bodden town and other areas of Cayman and see how to address it, Minister Eden said.

The LoGB said at the briefing: ”That same area, we recognise now, the problem is it is a basin that simply has no release valve. There is no simple answer or it would have been found a long time ago.

‘Hence the reason for an assessment needed to be done by a proper engineering study so we can see what the true answer is. We can speculate and try mitigation measures but when you have a situation like Hurricane Paloma where you have several days of continues rain before the actual event, it exacerbated the event. It does not happen often but it does happen, as we have seen,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.