The residents of what is now known as Survivors Road, off East End’s John McLean Drive, had reason to be thankful following 2004’s Hurricane Ivan. Homes along the street were not as badly damaged as many on the island and so they named their road in honor of coming out of the catastrophic hurricane virtually unscathed.
Ivan struck Grand Cayman on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004, packing winds of 150 mph and gusts of 220 mph, destroying homes and causing massive damage islandwide.
Several sections of the road to East End were washed away or badly eroded, virtually cutting off the communities from George Town.
East End Post Mistress Laurie Welcome, 61, was in the process of building a new home just off John McLean Drive when the hurricane hit. To protect her half-finished house, Mrs. Welcome covered her doors and windows with plywood.
“The road didn’t have a name at the time,” she said.
Recalling her hurricane experience, Mrs. Welcome said she was at home on East End’s “Front Road” (now known as Sea View Road) with her sister’s children when the storm hit. Not wanting to be stranded if the sea came across the road, Mrs. Welcome and the children made her way to the East End Civic Centre on the “Back Road,” known now as John McLean Drive, to seek shelter with other residents.
“Just like that, we all survived … it was a major hurricane … and by the grace of God, we survived,” said Mrs. Welcome with a sigh of relief.
Returning to her half-constructed home next day, she discovered she had lost only a few shingles off the east side of her house and a part of the ceiling in the living and dining room had come down. Overall, the home had fared well, without much damage.
Turning to her husband Ralph that day, Mrs. Welcome told him “Survivors” would be a good name for the road.
Just as soon as things were back in order, Mrs. Welcome submitted paperwork to the government’s Lands and Survey Department’s Street Naming office, with the support of other landowners in the area to have the road named Survivors.
Another Survivors Road resident, Albert Rankin, said everything on the East End Front Road was practically destroyed, but Survivors Road suffered only had minor damage.
“At the time, it was just a chip spray marl road called “Boiling Hole.” Where it came from? I haven’t the faintest clue,” he said.
Alvin McLaughlin, a senior citizen in East End, said he knew the area as “Burning Hole” when he was growing up. “People would go to plant root vegetables such as cassava pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and other produce there,” he said.When Mrs. Welcome asked him what he thought about naming the road Survivors, he told her “You the boss.”
“It sounds good to me,” he recalled. “I know I survived many things and will continue to survive.”
Since building his home on Survivors Road, Mr. Rankin started a small goat rearing farm along with a produce farm and works on outboard motors in his spare time.
In 2004, he was hurt at work and over the years required three major surgeries – “I am a survivor too,” he chuckles.
The day of the hurricane, he said, he was not worried. He had done his daily shopping before the winds had started to kick up and had retired early to bed. He didn’t get up until the roof came off. He said it felt like the house was bending in two but managed to withstand the strong winds. “It was rough, but we made it through and all survived,” he said.
Mr. Rankin and Mrs. Welcome bought their properties on Survivors Road from East End property developer Trevor Watler.
Mr. Watler said the area was known as TD Connolly Estate when he purchased half of it from the late estate developer Selkirk Watler.
This article is one in a continuing series that explores the stories behind some of Cayman’s unusual road names.