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“We never expected that.”
This was the initial reaction from The White House operations supervisor Carlos Frias after seeing the destruction Tropical Storm Grace caused at the Bodden Town business, but that could easily be any Grand Cayman resident’s response following the storm’s passage on Wednesday.
Grace, which passed 20 miles south of Grand Cayman and 94 miles from Cayman Brac at its closest point of impact, became a Category 1 hurricane after leaving the jurisdiction.
By Thursday morning, the destruction became evident to most.
Frias, speaking with the Cayman Compass on Thursday in a telephone interview, said the Bodden Town business lost its deck, the outside bar and roof.
“Everything is gone. I was surprised. We never expected that,” Frias said, adding that the damage was limited to the exterior fixtures of the building.
Across Grand Cayman residents were left without power, some up until late Thursday. Numerous trees were uprooted and miles of power and communication lines were downed.
Premier Wayne Panton, in video message Thursday, said, despite the damage from Grace, “we are certainly graced in the fact that we have had no loss of life”.
He said the storm left Cayman a mess, “but messes can be cleaned up”.
“If possible to save plant life, I would urge you to do so. I know of many mango, pear and neem trees that looked like a total loss after Hurricane Ivan but were pruned and cared for and re-established that bear much fruit and are lush green today. It is much easier to build upon that which we have than to start from scratch,” Panton said.
Frias said they learned of the damage to the business when the maintenance man made checks Wednesday and sent through images.
“We had everything as secured inside… all the tables, chairs were placed inside the house,” he said, but added he was not prepared for what he saw in those photos.
“The deck, that is the most damage[d]. I can’t give you a [figure], but I know it’s gonna be a lot of money,” he said.
Frias said the indoor dining room will be open for operation, but he said he has no idea when the outdoor decks will be repaired.
“We are doing assessments and only then we will know how long,” he added.
The dock at Morritt’s resort in East End also took a beating from the storm.
Over at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park large trees were destroyed by the high winds, and park staff and the Tourism Attraction Board issued an urgent appeal for the public’s assistance.
“We lost a lot of big trees, many of them were snapped in half. One appeared to tear down power lines as it fell, so the park also has no electricity at the moment,” said Botanic Park general manager John Lawrus in a press release.
After a complete assessment, both Lawrus and TAB director Patrick Thompson indicated that without a significant amount of manpower and assistance with equipment, the cleanup could take weeks.
“While we are reaching out to our partners in the public sector, we know that there is a lot of damage island wide, so human resources within government organisations may be stretched,” said Thompson.
The park, a non-profit entity, is already struggling to raise funds to continue the development of the Children’s Garden, he added.
“Unfortunately, we now have the additional burden of dealing with post-storm damage. We need help in removing the downed trees and other debris, and it appears the damage to the attraction may [cost] thousands of dollars to address,” he said.
The park is appealing for equipment like chainsaws, a dump truck, a backhoe and garbage skips.
Anyone who can assist in repairing the Botanic Park can call John Lawrus on 916-2609 or the TAB office on 949-6999.
“We also implore anyone who can volunteer to please reach out as soon as possible,” said Lawrus.
The TAB is asking anyone who can assist with the donation of heavy equipment to call Lawrus on 916-2609 or the TAB office on 949-6999.
Pedro St. James, also under the management of the TAB, suffered some downed trees and minor damage to the Great House.
“However, all staff have reported to work and are assisting with clean up accordingly,” the TAB said in the press release.
The TAB said all its attractions will remain closed until further notice.
Meanwhile, the premier in his statement said anyone who has waste vegetation can take the remnants of downed trees, vegetation and green waste to the following areas:
The area across the dock at Old Man Bay in North Side
The East End Civic Centre
The Crown property on Anton Bodden Road near Lookout Gardens
The NRA stockpile site on Poindexter Road near Prospect Primary School
West Bay Stadium
The George Town Landfill
Landfills on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac
Those who cannot make it to a drop site can put the vegetation at the side of the road by their home – without blocking the road – and Department of Environmental Health crews will be mobilised to collect the refuse next week.
There is a debris management team in place that can help people with their green waste; call DEH at 949-6696 or 925-6593, or email [email protected].