US ambassador briefs citizens

A delegation from the US Embassy in Kingston was in the Cayman Islands last week to brief American citizens on what they can expect from their representatives in the region.

Pamela Bridgewater, the US ambassador in Jamaica, spoke with US citizens at a meeting at the Brasserie on Friday evening during a flying visit to the territory.

Pauline Kastner, the American Citizen Services Chief, was also part of the delegation. She said it was important to let Americans living in the territory know what support was available, particularly during hurricane season.

“The National Ocean and Atmospheric Association predicts a more active season than usual, with 17 tropical storms and three or four hurricanes of category three or higher.

“We hope that none of them hit Jamaica or the Cayman Islands but we have to be prepared for that possibility.”

She said US citizens were being urged to sign up for the Smart Traveller Enrolment Programme, which would enable them to get email alerts from the American consulate.

“If anyone wants to know what the official message is that is the method we use to communicate with US citizens.”

Citizens can sign up online and messages range from alerts of public meetings in their area to consular advice over what action to take in an emergency.

The US delegation also reminded citizens to keep their passports updated, especially ahead of storm season.

Ms Kastner said: “We can evacuate American citizens without travel documents, but it is much more complicated. If they have up to date documents it is significantly easier to get them on a plane and get them out either before or after the storm.”

The US consular agent based in the Cayman Islands Gary Montemayor can help with passport applications. The usual wait time is 4-6 weeks for passports to be processed.

Mr. Montemayor also assists with registering of births, making arrangements for American citizens who die or are taken ill in the Cayman Islands and assists victims of crime.

There are an estimated 8,000 US citizens, including Caymanian-Americans, in the territory, according to Ms Kastner.

The consulate also has some responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of tourists that visit the island each year.

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