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Clean-ups are continuing across Grand Cayman as debris left in the wake of Tropical Storm Grace remains to be cleared in some areas.

Tourist attractions Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and Pedro St James remain closed until further notice due to the widespread damage sustained in the storm, which struck Grand Cayman last Wednesday morning, felling trees and power lines.

John Lawrus, Botanic Park manager, told the Cayman Compass via audio note that a lot of work remains to be done at the park.

“Our nursery is still under review and remains somewhat of a hazard… Hopefully, [it] will be dealt with within the next week, making that a safer place for volunteers and staff to work. We cannot say when we will be open yet, as we still have lots of recovery to do, lots of irrigation, water supply issues still to be resolved and still yet to discover,” he said.

Damage being assessed

Lawrus said power was restored at the visitor centre and maintenance area at the Botanic Park so staff were able to catch up on administration work on Tuesday.

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During the passage of the storm, Grand Cayman lost power completely; as of this morning, Wednesday, 25 Aug., 11 customers were without power. A spokesperson from Caribbean Utilities Company confirmed that CUC crews had been “working all day” Tuesday to restore power to homes.

Lawrus added that, at the park, the community, local businesses and the Cayman Islands Regiment have responded to calls for assistance.

“We look forward to opening the doors as soon as possible, as soon as it’s safe. Thank you for everyone’s continued community support. I will still also be meeting with numerous groups and individuals that have currently offered their assistance and will update in the next few days after we get through the next phase of recovery,” he said, adding 10 to 12 volunteers are on site daily assisting with clean-up efforts.

He said the Children’s Garden, the observation tower and the Rotary schoolhouse were unscathed.

“The Cayman National Bank splash pad, Krys Global and Associates discovery pond, our beautiful giant bird’s nest and Greenlight regrown zone remain untouched and ready for its next phase of development after we get through Tropical Storm Grace recovery,” he added.

Anyone willing to assist the efforts at the park can call Lawrus directly on 916-2609.

As for Pedro St James, there was some damage to the main building and several trees were blown over. Clearing work is also continuing at that site.

Island-wide debris collection

The Department of Environmental Health has extended its opening hours at the George Town landfill to 6:30pm Tuesday and Wednesday to accommodate residents clearing debris.

The landfill drop-off at the gate will remain accessible for the public and small vehicles 24 hours a day.
The DEH announced it will be embarking on island-wide debris collection starting in West Bay on Monday, 30 Aug.

Residents are asked to place their vegetation waste (logs, plants, tree branches and leaves) on the kerbside during the specified dates.

DEH collection schedule Monday to Saturday  
• West Bay: 30 Aug. – 4 Sept.
• George Town: 6-11 Sept. 
• Bodden Town: 13-18 Sept.
• North Side/East End 20-25 Sept.

Meanwhile, Dart has closed its parking lot closest to the Camana Bay cinema until further notice following damage from Tropical Storm Grace, which uprooted a number of large trees in the area last Wednesday.

In a statement to the Compass Monday afternoon, Dart said while most of the walkways, roads and parking lots at Camana Bay are clear and open, there are still some downed trees in the town centre and that parking area.

“The carpark will remain closed as evaluations of the damage to the sausage trees continues to determine how best to move forward on a case-by-case (tree-by-tree) basis. The sausage trees have always been very popular with Camana Bay visitors,” Dart said.

This large tree blocked the entrance to the Camana Bay carpark closest to the cinema after the passage of Tropical Storm Grace on 18 Aug. – Photo: Reshma Ragoonath

Justin Howe, Dart president real estate asset management, responding to Compass queries on the impact of the storm, said while Dart’s construction sites did not incur any damage from Grace, “the severe weather took its toll on natural landscaping across the Cayman Islands”, which also included Dart’s landscaping.

“We are grateful that the damage was not worse and that there has been no reported loss of life or serious injury as a result of the storm but recognise many in our community are dealing with the damage and loss of beloved fruit and shade trees,” he said.

Howe added, “At Dart’s properties, our horticulture and landscape design teams have been working tirelessly in partnership with other local landscaping firms to clear debris, assess damage to vegetation, and develop methodologies to salvage trees wherever feasible and replace specimens that cannot be rehabilitated.”

No figures on how many trees have been lost or the associated costs was available as assessments were still being done.

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