Editorial for 23 May: Preparedness Day was a test

Monday was National Day of Preparedness.

How fitting.

Little did we know on Friday when we were all getting ready
for a long weekend holiday that our Discovery Day would mean drenching rains
that resulted in flooded homes, roads and fields.

By Tuesday morning we were looking at more than 12 inches of
rain that had fallen on Grand Cayman within a 48-hour period between Sunday and
Tuesday. In the run up to press time we were keeping a wary eye on the skies as
clouds darkened and more deluges threatened.

The ground is already saturated – super saturated in some places
– and any additional rains will surely mean more flooding.

So how prepared were you for Monday’s rains and floods?

If nothing else, National Day of Preparedness taught us that
we have to be prepared for any kind of disaster, and that includes all aspects
of government.

The Minister of Education had to directly contact one of our
reporters to get the message out that government schools were to be closed
Tuesday because of the rains and flooding. We appreciate the heads up from Mr.
Anglin, of course, but where was Government Information Services?

Likewise we received no information from our national
carrier, Cayman Airways, about flight cancellations on Monday.

We can hold disaster preparedness exercises and pat
ourselves on the back at how well they went until the cows come home, but
unless we put what we learned into practice during a real disaster, all we’ve
done is waste time. During Monday’s flooding we turned specifically to two of
government’s websites to try to get updated information. The last post on
caymanprepared.ky, the site run by Hazard Management, was made on 14 December,
2011, informing readers that it was Earthquake Awareness Day. The government’s
weather website posted a severe weather bulletin at 10am Monday; nothing more.

What’s the point of having these websites or staffing them
if the public can’t access or use the information? We can do better.

 

 

 

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