Widespread power outages in Grand Cayman resulted in most public schools closing early Tuesday. The failure hit much of the island, cutting power to many homes and businesses from West Bay to East End intermittently for several hours.
The outage started around 10:40 a.m. as the result of a fault in a generator at the Caribbean Utilities Company power station, according to Pat Bynoe-Clark, spokeswoman for CUC. “As a result, the system safely shut down as it is designed to do,” she said.
CUC said it had restored power to all customers by 3:30 Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday’s outage is the second in a week. Exactly a week earlier, a problem with a utility pole cut power for about two hours in George Town.
The Department of Education Services shut most public schools by noon Tuesday because of the outage. Students at two schools, Prospect Primary and Clifton Hunter High School, were able to finish the regular day because both have backup generators, education officials said.
Students assigned to school buses were taken home early. Education officials contacted local media around midday for help in alerting parents to make arrangements to pick up children not on the bus system.
The outage kept emergency services busy. Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers deployed to the busiest stoplight intersections to direct traffic. Power went out at the George Town fire station, and a fire service representative said they had numerous calls during the outage.
The power failure caused a false fire alarm at the LIME building in George Town, a fire service representative said.
At many businesses, power went on and off for a couple hours during the middle of the day.
Paperman’s Coffeehouse in Midtown Plaza lost power at the beginning of the lunch rush, reducing its menu and forcing it to accept cash only as people from surrounding businesses and government offices used the time of the power outage to go out for lunch.
The power outage also impacted the local courts. Magistrate Adam Roberts, who had 70 defendants before him Tuesday, continued working with a battery-powered lamp and attorneys used illumination from cellphones to read court documents. He adjourned by midday as the emergency lights in his courtroom failed.
The Courts building does not have a generator.
Around 11:45 a.m. Crown counsel Alex Upton requested permission to remove his jacket and the magistrate remarked, “We are going back to 2004” – a reference to the days after Hurricane Ivan in September that year when downtown George Town was without power for several days.
Emergency lights in the courtrooms and stairwells failed one by one, leaving much of the building dark by 1 p.m.
Approximately 14 defendants in custody at Northward Prison were to have appeared in court via video link, but just like during the power failure last week, their cases had to be put off. Grand Court criminal matters were adjourned again until Wednesday morning.
Justice Ingrid Mangatal and Justice Richard Williams were hearing civil matters in their chambers because of available natural light.
Compass reporter Carol Winker contributed to this story.