It has been nearly nine years since Hurricane Ivan devastated Grand Cayman and five years since Hurricane Paloma impacted the Sister Islands. Since then, new residents have arrived on the Islands and a considerable number of people who were too young to fully appreciate the effects of these powerful storms are now adults with homes and families of their own.
This and the tendency of elapsed time to soften and fade our memories makes it important for us all to prepare carefully for the Hurricane Season.
Hurricanes are not to be taken lightly. In Hurricane Ivan, about a third of all vehicles were destroyed by the sea water surge. In many areas along the road that hugs the south coast and even well inland, residents who had not sought safe shelter and who lived in single story homes were forcing themselves into attics and roof spaces to avoid drowning.
Hurricane Ivan was a large and powerful hurricane, but it is perfectly possible that another hurricane could strike with equal or worse force. We must be prepared. Every hurricane is different, so while Hurricane Ivan tracked along the south coast, the eye of the next hurricane headed our way could pass closer to North Side, or West Bay with greater impact there than experienced in Hurricane Ivan.
Preparedness pays off. Do not be complacent. The National Hurricane Center forecast for the season suggests that this year there could be early season activity which might affect Cayman more than in recent years. It is therefore time to start the groundwork now.
Clear your yard of debris. Check your shutters and put a hurricane supply kit together. Every resident needs fresh water, non-perishable food and a flashlight to ensure that they could get through the days following the impact of a hurricane. Electricity and other utilities might not be available for some time. Debris or water might block the roads. Help might not reach you for days, so you will need to be self-sufficient during that period.
If part of your disaster plan includes the possibility of evacuating the Islands, then you should ensure that your passport and travel documents are current.
Use lessons learned from past storms and anticipate as well as you can.
For those of you are that new to these Islands, or who have never experienced the ferocity of an intense tropical cyclone, it is important to heed the warnings and check local media sources frequently if a storm is bearing down on the Cayman Islands.
Hurricanes can bring torrential rain, flooding, storm surge and devastating winds that damage homes, vehicles and destroy treasured keepsakes. It is never too early to prepare, and you can take certain basic steps right now to protect your family and home from disaster. I urge you to do so.