Brackers thankful after Paloma anniversary

Governor bids Brac farewell

More than 300 residents from Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman gathered Saturday night in the Brac’s Aston Rutty Centre to give thanks following the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Paloma.

The Category Three Paloma struck the Cayman Islands on 8 November, 2008 leaving Grand Cayman mostly untouched, but devastating Cayman Brac – damaging or destroying the majority of the Island’s housing stock.

The Category 3 storm was the first major hurricane to hit the Cayman Islands so late in the storm season since the dreadful hurricane of 1932 – which also arrived on 8 November.

A year and two weeks on, the Brac has largely bounced back, although Governor Stuart Jack said Saturday that there were still residents living in temporary trailer homes. Also, damage to the Brac’s foliage, particularly on the bluff area was still evident.

But Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said it was better than she would have dared hope when she was hiding in her bathroom with her family on 8 November, 2008.

‘Will there be another storm? Perhaps,’ Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly said. ‘But we are a resilient people. When we come together for a common cause, there isn’t anything that can stop us.’

Saturday’s event included a 25-minute slideshow of photos taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Paloma that revealed pictures of the storm’s destruction. Some of those photos had not been seen publicly before Saturday evening.

There were also a number of prayers offered and church songs during which members of the audience stood up, clapped and waved their hands in celebration.

The event also marked the last visit to the Brac for the out-going Governor Jack, who is leaving the country on 2 December.

Although Governor Jack’s four-year tenure in Cayman has been fraught with controversy, Saturday’s crowd at the Aston Rutty Centre gave him a warm welcome. Many remembered the Governor spending a night immediately after Paloma with them in the Aston Rutty Centre.

‘Of my time in the Cayman Islands in total, my best and my worst memories are of Paloma,’ Mr. Jack said. ‘There’s an awful lot to give thanks for. It could’ve been a lot worse.’