Each year as I prepare to work on this annual Hurricane message to you I do so with a certain amount of trepidation because as I put pen to paper, none of us knows what this hurricane season is going to bring.
Too, I am reminded of that 16th century English phrase – “Speak of the Devil and he doth appear.”
I certainly do not want to tempt fate!
In the past few weeks we have anxiously watched our friends in the southern United States suffer through flooding from torrential rains and damage done by horrific tornadoes. Our neighbours remain in our thoughts and prayers. And while hurricanes can be even more damaging than tornadoes, they are predictable unlike tornadoes that can pop up quickly.
We are blessed because we have a National Weather Service that is linked regionally and can stay on top of all weather issues and inform us in advance when bad weather is headed our way, giving us time to make preparations.
The early predictions from our friends in the United States are already out. We are told that the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season is going to be less active than 2018 with 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
But do not let that prediction put you off your guard. We know that just one bad storm can wreak havoc. We learned that lesson in 2004’s Hurricane Ivan, 2008’s Hurricane Paloma and watched in 2017 as our sister British Overseas Territories and other islands in the Caribbean suffered from hurricanes Irma and Maria.
My plea to each of you is to be prepared for the worst and pray for the best this hurricane season, which will stretch from 1 June to the end of November.
Earlier this month 17 of our Emergency Support Teams held a hurricane exercise to assess the country’s hurricane plans, policies and procedures to give us a realistic depiction of a hurricane as it approaches, impacts us and then leaves us behind to clean up. I commend them for their diligence and service to our country.
What we have learned from past experiences is that no two hurricanes are alike and many are unpredictable. For instance Hurricane Ivan was not even supposed to hit Grand Cayman; it was headed initially for Cayman Brac, until it wobbled.
Fortunately we have learned lessons from the storms that either struck us or our neighbours. The main message, though, is be prepared.
If we do find ourselves facing another storm this year, I beg you to please pay attention to government announcements and bulletins. All of our media outlets – Radio Cayman FM89.9, the Breeze FM105.3, Cayman Islands Government TV, Cayman Islands Government Information Services and www.caymanprepared.ky will carry information to tell you what to expect and what to do. Hazard Management Cayman Islands also works with private media houses that have been diligent each time we have faced a storm to get out the important, necessary information.
So, if you do not have a hurricane plan in place for your family or business, make one and then join me in my prayer that God will once again spare our beloved Islands during this 2019 Hurricane Season.
Premier Alden McLaughlin, elected member for Red Bay, is Minister for Human Resources, Immigration, Community Affairs, International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs.