Premier: During hurricane season 2018, be prepared

Premier Alden McLaughlin

Hurricane Season is upon us once again and it is my prayer that we keep in mind the many lessons we have learned over the years as major storms wreaked havoc in our sister British Overseas Territories last year and our own Islands in 2004 and 2008.

I cannot stress enough about the need to be prepared and vigilant as we enter another hurricane season.

Meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are forecasting 10-16 named storms this year, and five to nine of those storms are forecast to become hurricanes. The prediction is that one to four of the hurricanes will become major, meaning Category 3 or higher.

NOAA’s 2018 forecast is very similar to the forecast made before last year’s record-setting hurricane season in which Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands experienced devastation from hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Fortunately, the Cayman Islands was spared and we were able to offer humanitarian assistance to Anguilla and security aid to Turks and Caicos and BVI. We also worked with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to help provide aid to British Overseas Territories ravaged by the hurricanes.

But the governments and people of those islands are still cleaning up from the devastation that damaged lives, homes, businesses and economies.

I pray we are all spared from storm damage this year.

Right now, it does not look too favorable, but I do not really like to rely on hurricane predictions. In the words of former Director of the National Weather Service Fred Sambula, “it only takes one hurricane to do the damage and make it a bad season for the Cayman Islands.”

We found that out with Hurricanes Ivan and Paloma.

No two hurricanes are alike and while prognosticators tell us how many storms will form and how powerful they will be, they cannot predict any one storm’s disposition.

So please, take this early part of the season to get prepared. Waiting until the last minute as a storm is approaching is stressful, both emotionally and financially.

And as you stock your hurricane supply kits, make plans for your families and businesses and secure important documents like passports and insurance papers, remember that we are susceptible to water surge in any storm.

And while that surge is usually limited to the coastal regions, the heavy rainfalls we experienced a few weeks ago are a reminder that flooding is a problem, especially in low-lying areas.

If we are faced with a storm this year, please pay attention to Government announcements and bulletins, which will be available on Radio Cayman and its sister station Breeze, as well as Cayman Islands Government Television. Many private media houses will also carry updated messages and bulletins as they work in conjunction with Hazard Management Cayman Islands.

Most of all, be prepared, have a plan and join me in my prayer that God will once again spare these Islands this Hurricane Season.