Cayman has no earthquake plan

Breaking Lead1

Cayman does not have an earthquake
plan, the agency tasked with preparing the islands for natural disasters has

While the Cayman Islands has procedures
to guide evacuation and recovery in hurricanes that are used in other disasters
such as earthquakes or floods, there is no specific earthquake plan, Hazard
Management Cayman Islands’ deputy director Omar Afflick said.

Asked why no plan was drawn up
following the 6.7-magnitude earthquake in December 2004, Mr. Afflick said that
“was a difficult question to answer”, adding “these plans are not drawn up
overnight, they need proper analysis in terms of vulnerability, risks and
possible effects”.

And in the week since the
devastating earthquake in Haiti last week, the department had not carried out
any work on developing an earthquake response plan, Mr. Afflick admitted,
instead concentrating on drills for the government accommodation building.

However, Hazard Management had
completed a “preliminary vulnerability assessment” that examined various
disaster scenarios, including earthquakes, in March last year.

He said individual government
entities could draw up their own earthquake or other natural disaster plans.

The Health Services Authority’s
disaster coordinator Michelle Reid told the Caymanian Compass on Tuesday that
the Cayman Islands Hospital did not have an earthquake plan. She said there had
been no need to evacuate patients from the hospital following Tuesday’s tremor.

Although the hospital does have an
evacuation policy in the event of fire or hurricanes, Ms Reid admitted it had
no specific plan in the case of an earthquake.

“We don’t have an earthquake plan
in place. We will be developing one along with being advised by Hazard
Management Cayman Islands,” she said.

An apparent lack of
earthquake-related evacuation procedures at public schools has also led to a
barrage of criticism from parents and students in Cayman.

Sinkhole filled in

Meanwhile a giant sinkhole that
appeared in the earthquake was being filled in at Pirates Lair on South Sound
Road on Wednesday morning.

Police shut down a section of South
Sound Road and sent officers to keep curious onlookers away from the sinkhole
at the condo complex on Tuesday.

Two apartments bordering the 20ft
by 30ft sinkhole have been evacuated.

Three security guards had been
stationed at the site on Wednesday morning to keep people away while an excavator
was at work filling in the waterlogged hole with earth.

Two smaller “possible sinkholes”
that were bubbling were also discovered about 200 yards from Pirates Lair, in
about a foot of water, Simon Boxall with Hazard Management said.

Staff from the Department of the
Environment were examining the holes on South Sound on Wednesday.

Damage assessment

A preliminary report from the
Public Works Department indicated that there was no severe damage in any
government building, but inspections were continuing on Wednesday. The Hazard
Management team had also received no reports of structural damage to other
buildings or structures.

Breaking Story1

A digger fills in the sinkhole at Pirates Lair on Wednesday morning.
Photo: Norma Connolly