Online poll Residents are 'somewhat prepared' for hurricane season

“Somewhat, but I have more to do” was not only the dominant response to last week’s online poll, but, even in the context of our unscientific probe of public attitudes, a summation of a widespread attitude.

The government and the dedicated staff at Hazard Management Cayman Islands take extraordinary steps every year to warn, to prepare, to inspire citizens to be cognizant of the June 1 start to hurricane season.

Drills and demonstrations are mounted, checklists and brochures printed and distributed. The overwhelming response, however, appears to be a shrug of the shoulders and a promise to complete preparations as soon as it becomes necessary.

Last week’s poll asked: Hurricane season is upon us. Have you prepared for it?

A modest 329 voters selected among five options, ranging from the keen – and last place, apart from the handful of respondents who don’t live here – “yes, I’m already as ready as I’ll ever be,” to the cynical – and second place – “not in the least and I won’t,” although it came with a caveat: “Unless there’s a major hurricane coming right for us.”

Somewhere in the middle was the aforementioned – and most popular – response “somewhat,” and the rather wimpy confession that “I haven’t started, but I plan to closer to the peak of the season.”

Hazard Management will tell you that waiting for a major hurricane to come “right for us” is probably too late: food and water stocks will be sold, storm warnings issued, limits implemented on personal and vehicle movements and, certainly, stocks of plywood, roof straps, tools and other physical aids for protection, hard to locate.

And waiting till the “peak of the season”? Severe rains two weeks ago should have spoken adequately to that strategy.

The top response – “somewhat, but I have more to do” – attracted 99 votes, 30.1 percent of the total, generating such remarks as “I think we just get lazy, plus I have a lot of insurance if the worst-case scenario occurs.”

Other remarks in the top category ranged from “The dump will kill us all long before any hurricane does,” to “I bought 10 cans of tuna fish. I still have a kit put together from previous years. I suppose that counts as a start,” and the fact that one reader had found “reliable contractors to finish [my] house.”

On a more serious note, if still confessing to only “somewhat” compliance, was the reader who “bought myself a satellite phone and diesel generator.”

In second place, with 85 votes, 25.8 percent of the total, was “not in the least and I won’t.” Comments started with the blatantly satirical: “We don’t get hurricanes around here now that the PPM is around, just like they got rid of corruption, bullying, bigotry, domestic abuse, child molestation and bad breath. All hail the great PPM.”

From there, readers moved on with “no need. I don’t expect to see another big storm for another 50 years.”

The remark refers to 2004’s category-five Hurricane Ivan. The direct hit on the Cayman Islands, created an unprecedented $1.4 billion of damage, but was unique in several respects: It created the highest storm wave (91 feet) in history; the fastest seafloor current (5 miles per hour), was the sixth most-intense Atlantic hurricane on record and did $13 billion of damage in the US, the third costliest.

The mathematical odds of a similar storm striking the Cayman Islands this year are remote.

In third place, with 78 votes and 23.7 percent of the total is “I haven’t started, but I plan to closer to the peak of the season.

While it can be difficult to divine people’s meaning, “always keep supplies; need to refresh batteries and the like,” might support this category, as might “please tell newcomers the importance of shutters and door braces. Also arranging in advance where they will stay if not at home.”

In fourth place, with 45 votes and 13.7 percent of the total, is “yes, I’m already as ready as I’ll ever be.”

In support, one reader turned on its head the sense that a second Hurricane Ivan was mathematically unlikely: “Ever since Hurricane Ivan I have been ready 24/7 all year round,” said one reader, the only commentator who appeared to unreservedly take storm defense to heart.

Finally, in last place, with only 22 votes and 6.7 percent of the total, was the innocuous “I don’t live in the Cayman Islands,” a category for overseas readers, often regular visitors, who stay abreast of local events and contribute to opinion.

“Why, yes. I am in Michigan and will be watching the TV and the NOAA website for any and all updates. Just like you folks do for blizzard warnings,” the contributor said, taking a pot shot at local residents gloating at frigid US winter storms, especially across the Midwest.

Next Week’s Poll Question:

Local corruption has been in the news lately. How do you feel about the discussion? (Please explain in the comments section):

Corruption is pervasive. Anyone feeling differently is delusional.

Corruption is a problem, but not overwhelming.

Corruption is not a particular problem. It’s just part of business.

Corruption is largely nonexistent. It’s mostly media hype.

I don’t know.

To participate in this poll, please visit starting June 15.