My fellow Caymanians and residents, as our Islands stand poised at the brink of another hurricane season, two things are a must: We should hope for the best possible outcome, but also prepare for the worst.
A busy hurricane season has been forecast. Scientists from NOAA expect 13 to 20 named storms. Of these, seven to 11 are expected to become hurricanes and three to six to develop into major hurricanes. This is well above the seasonal average.
We are fortunate that the Cayman Islands now has a new tool to help residents prepare for hurricanes and hopefully to minimise loss of life and damage to property.
The new Doppler radar weather system cost around CI$4.5 million to build and was funded through a European Union grant. It sends out electronic pulses, across a 250-mile radius, that provide detailed surveillance of weather affecting all three Islands and the surrounding ocean.
The establishment of this early warning station in the Cayman Islands is a significant boost to our region’s ability to prepare for natural disasters and adverse weather.
The radar will provide our National Weather Service with a much clearer picture of the strength and location of approaching hurricanes. This is of paramount importance to our hurricane warning system. If a hurricane is approaching, the weather service will see the details, see the exact movement, the strength, can share this with the community and provide earlier warnings and improved forecasts.
Over the years we have also made great strides in our overall level of individual preparedness. Yet despite the increased capacity of the Cayman Islands to monitor and forecast the likely impact of tropical cyclones, we have learnt from past storms that hurricanes remain inherently unpredictable.
As such, using any single storm as a benchmark for preparedness may put you and your family in a precarious position. I urge all families to check their emergency plans and supplies. Government preparedness cannot be a substitute for personal readiness. The two go hand-in-hand.
I urge you, as we enter this hurricane season, to take the risks posed by the storm season with the utmost seriousness and do all you can to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe.
Everyone should spend some time preparing. We may or may not lie in the path of some of this year’s storms, but we cannot afford to be complacent. We cannot look into the future to foresee what is coming our way, but we can all be prepared.
So go through the normal preparation list, from clearing your yard of debris, and checking on shutters, to putting a hurricane supply kit together. Use lessons learned from past storms and anticipate as well as you can. Then, go a step further by checking on neighbours too. See if you can lend a hand in completing their early season preparations as well.
As the saying goes, together we stand, divided we fall. Our strength lies in reaching out to each other, not just when things get tough, but even before. That is how we will be best enabled to weather any storm that comes our way.
I ask for God’s continued protection of these beloved Cayman Islands through the season ahead.
Premier Alden McLaughlin