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Four hurricane shelters on Grand Cayman and one on Cayman Brac are on standby as the islands prepare for the passage of storm Eta.
The Cayman Islands are currently under a tropical storm warning, as the storm bears down on the area. Eta is expected to pass 53 miles northwest of Grand Cayman on Saturday evening, according to the National Weather Service’s 4pm bulletin.
Cayman is expected to experience tropical-storm-force winds on Saturday, as well as extensive flooding and rough seas.
Shelter management teams at the Red Cross and other shelters are ready to open the facilities if needed, and the shelters are stocked with supplies and personal protective equipment, Hazard Management Cayman Islands Director Danielle Coleman said.
Coleman, in a video issued by the Government Information Service, appealed to members of the public not to leave their homes Saturday unless necessary, because there is likely to be flooding in several areas as rainfall of 6-10 inches is expected.
“If you don’t have to go out of the house, please don’t go out of the house tomorrow. Work from home if you can… if you are working, please make sure you drive very, very carefully; there will be potholes, no doubt, and also the visibility from the rain will be an issue if you are driving, so please if you can stay off the road, please do so,” she said.
Hazard Management staff, along with senior public and private sector representatives, met Friday morning to discuss the islands’ preparedness ahead of the arrival of near tropical-storm-force winds on Grand Cayman on Saturday. Uniformed and essential services representatives outlined their readiness to the National Hazard Management Council and the National Emergency Operations Centre.
Coleman said Hazard Management is in contact with regional disaster management organisation CDEMA, as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
According to a statement on Cayman’s preparedness for the storm issued by the Government Information Service late Friday afternoon, members of the Cayman Islands Regiment have been embedded around the islands to help any people who need assistance, and the RCIPS Community Officer teams are also on standby.
Director General of the National Weather Service John Tibbetts said in a statement that while Eta is currently a tropical depression, its maximum wind speed was nearing tropical storm strength Friday evening. He noted that any further rapid intensification of the storm during its passage through the Cayman Islands area would be unlikely due to existing, strong high-level wind shear.
In the same statement, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson urged members of the public to complete their preparedness plans as quickly as possible.
He also emphasised the importance of avoiding non-essential movement around the islands until authorities confirm it is safe to travel.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and standing by to protect lives and property should there be a need,” he said. “At the same time, we count on members of the public to exercise common sense when it comes to avoidable risks such as travelling near affected coastlines or on flooded roads. This will avoid placing unnecessary strain on our essential workers.”
While tropical storm force winds are not expected to reach Cayman Brac and Little Cayman those islands are very close to the path of the storm and may be impacted by any shift in its direction, officials said. As such they should maintain a state of readiness until the all clear is given.
Coleman said government is in contact with individuals who are in isolation facilities or in quarantine in their homes to make sure that any needs arising in relation to the storm can be anticipated, such as moving people to higher floors, if necessary.
The National Emergency Operations Centre and Mental Health Hotlines will be activated tomorrow. These numbers are as follows:
- NEOC- 949-6555 (from 7am until stood down)
- Mental Health- 18005346463 (9am-5pm)