CNS poll: Is Cayman hurricane ready?

| 11/09/2017 | 65 Comments
Cayman News Service

The streets in Havana, Cuba, are flooded after Hurricane Irma

(CNS): The Cayman Islands just dodged a 425-mile wide bullet. Irma broke the record for consecutive hours at category 5 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph, leaving a trail of destroyed homes and widespread flooding all along its path across the Caribbean and Florida, with uprooted lives and months of recovery ahead for millions of people. The death toll from Hurricane Irma stands at 37 across the Caribbean, including ten in Cuba, plus five so far in Florida.

In Miami, 72% of the city has lost power, while across Florida more 6.2 million homes (62%) are without electricity and hurricane shelters are overflowing.

But in the Caribbean, whole islands have been devastated. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that the British government has already set aside £32m in aid and will match public donations to the Red Cross appeal. As well as police officers from the UK, Cayman and elsewhere in the region, 700 British troops are in the Caribbean to assist those islands that bore the brunt of the storm.

We know from Ivan in 2004 that immediate concerns for those affected are water, food, shelter and security — followed by years of help as the islands rebuild. How badly they have been damaged may depend on how well they were prepared, not just in terms of emergency supplies but also in the integrity of their infrastructure and their governments’ contingency planning.

But we also know that Ivan and Paloma in 2008 will not be the last hurricanes to hit the Cayman Islands. Sooner or later, another big one will come, and the question is, will we be ready for it?

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Category: Opinion Poll, Science & Nature, Viewpoint, Weather

Comments (65)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    very few places in the world would be able to cope with a category 5 hurricane and come out unscathed. If not the rain, it will be the waves and the winds so no one should feel so smug. I live in the Bodden Town area and shudder to think what would happen if we get even a cat. 3 this season. Bodden town does not even have a hurricane shelter for us to huddle into.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I know this is horrible to say, but I wish Cayman or Bermuda were hit versus these poorer Caribbean islands who don’t have the wealth to recover as Cayman or other tax havens do. It is not fair they were hit with a Cat 5 and will suffer immensely since they lack money to get back on their feet promptly again.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a stupid statement.

    • Anonymous says:

      No hurricane is ‘fair’. No country is rich enough in a natural disaster. (Exhibit A: Texas & Florida.)

      And don’t feel too superior here. Our ‘wealth’ is – as in those ‘poorer’ countries – based on tourists coming to nice hotels & condos in winter and banking continuity year-round. We’d be in a similar problem if hit by a Cat5: scrambling to take care of immediate problems (a la Texas & Florida) while having one eye on trying to reopen tourist infrastructure and one eye on business (and Govt.) continuity. Knowing that if we don’t pull off that three-way balancing act we won’t have the ‘wealth’ for a long-term recovery of the local population (home repairs, school repairs, hospital repairs, counseling, etc.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be so sure that the Cayman Islands wouldn’t follow their steps because this country is NOT prepared on any level. Even centralized communication does’t exist.
      And the wealth would desert this country as fast as it had descended on it.
      As for the countries that were destroyed, they were destroyed by their own complacency.
      Caymanians have also become complacent about hurricanes, because it has been 13 years since the Ivan, the terrible.
      Many expats maintain homes elsewhere. Caymanians depend on their Government preparedness and there is none. If there is, why won’t you demand from your government to demonstrate it.

      • Anonymous says:

        These poorer countries are not complacent! They are poor and don’t have the means to build or protect the little they have!

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you thick

  3. Veritas says:

    To be hurricane ready you need a National Weather Service website that is operational, ours isn’t.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It does make you reconsider investing your money in Cayman when Cayman can easily be wiped out in a cat 5 and be off the map along with the money you invested there. IF this were to happen who will give you your money or is it lost forever, along with Cayman?

    • Anonymous says:

      That is y we must store our treasures in heaven and not on earth.

      • Anonymous says:

        Typical religious remark.

        • Anonymous says:

          Lol, typical? Na. But obviously a bit too “deep” for you to comprehend.

          • Anonymous says:

            You get better ROI at Hogwarts.

            • Anonymous says:

              Nope I don’t think Cayman will do to well. Look at what happens when we get a heavier rain, the streets are flooded, Dart is dredging among other companies, which the Government allowed. Or does anyone remember the Government that was in office wouldn’t allow anyone here to view all the destruction “it was a secret” just like we didn’t have a Category 5?

      • Anonymous says:

        Amen to that

    • Anonymous says:

      Not any different than many other countries where you are subject to flash floods, avalanches, earth quakes, tornado, wild fires etc etc. Who gives you the money back if your house is flattened by an earth quake?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hardly anything happens in Canada or Russia, may be some other countries.
      And yes, unless one can afford to lose his investments in the Cayman Islands, he or she should think twice. For hurricanes as Irma is a new “normal”.
      Flat piece of rock stands no chance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your insurance company…

      • Anonymous says:

        Your insurance company will be gone along with Cayman and will no longer exist. And where are all the records when Cayman is off the map and no longer. Risky business living in Cayman with investing in a home that can be gone tomorrow or an island that can disappear into the sea with all your belongings, investments and money. Those companies who you were insured with will no longer exist along with all your proof and records. And in those circumstances your records will also be gone since you just want to get off a piece of land sinking into the ocean nothing else will matter. And it is a matter of when not if when a tsunami will wipe Cayman off the map. It is a flat rock who doesn’t stand a chance. I took my money and ran years ago.

        • Anonymous says:

          So you ran. Has Cayman sunk since then? If not perhaps your assessment is … wrong?

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually, unless your assets are in a tin can in your back yard, your money and financial records are actually stored offisland. Any real business backs up records in the internet cloud. Can’t say the same for CIG, but hopefully it does as well as banks, insurance companies etc.

        • Anonymous says:

          I am always highly concerned during hurricane season,but five days after Ivan I was incorporating companies for our Swiss head office. We also were able to accommodate two other businesses in our Harbour Centre office until they could do their repairs. I do not think that the entire island would disappeared. God is still good, I know many of you don’t believe that but the prayers of those of us who believe in a supreme God helps to protect all of you atheists as well. You can deny the existiance of God but please bear in mind that you are reaping the benefits.

      • Anonymous says:

        The insurance company that is under the ocean? I reckon you can kiss your money and pensions goodbye.

        • Anonymous says:

          And this is why pension investments are (by law) overseas investments. So you dilute your risk. – And why the insurance companies are re-insured overseas as well. – Yes after a Cat5 resuming business will take longer, but it will not be impossible. – Note that at any time a business can go bankrupt. Ivan was a good example of your fear that your insurance company may go bankrupt when you need it. However, nationally, risk is diluted among companies so, nationally, business will continue and individuals will rebuild.

          • Anonymous says:

            Anybody remember after “Ivan” when BritCay, for a while, put a moratorium on payment of claims and actually locked their doors – or asked why?

    • Anonymous says:

      And kiss goodbye to all the pension money they want so desperately to keep.

    • Anonymous says:

      Insofar as possible, one needs to drill into the balance sheet of contracted insurance providers, and reinsurers, long before claims are made which can wipe them out, and leave you holding the proverbial (empty) bag. “Things” can be replaced.

    • Anonymous says:

      8.57am FYI in today’s world,Grand Cayman businesses tend to back up their data ( accounts etc) on computer servers on the Brac Bluff, or in a secure foreign location.Some will often fly staff members off island until the storm passes..Remember we along with our business partners survived Ivan and its devastation.So don’t worry, your funds will still be safe here in the Cayman Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      anon 8:57 cat 5 hurricane can do major damage to any place it hits. Cayman is no different that most caribbean countries even the us and other larger countries will have a major bill to pay.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I assume that every house built after the Ivan is elevated and built to withstand at least category 3. Hurricane shutters are mandatory. I assume that no houses are allowed to be build in the critical areas that were catastrophically affected by Ivan. I assume that framed houses are not allowed to be built, unless they are reinforced by hurricane straps and specifically designed to withstand Cat.3.
    I assume that every new roof put in place on pre-Ivan houses is a hurricane proof roof.
    I assume that all houses that survived Ivan are reinforced with hurricane straps.
    I assume that compliance with hurricane related building codes is vigorously enforced by the CIG. I assume that emergency communication is in place, working and is regularly tested.
    I assume that emergency supply of food and water is maintained and regularly rotated.
    I assume that there are designated safe and ready to function shelters. I assume that all disabled and elderly people are identified, the list is regularly updated and the system is in place to transport them to a designated shelter. That system is regularly tested.

    While hardly anything can withstand wind force over 150 mph, all the above measures would help to avoid catastrophic consequences of Cat.1,2,3 and possibly 4.

    If you said Yes to all assumption, then YES, the CIG is ready.

    Plenty of money is being wasted elsewhere to assist Caymanians to hurricane proof their houses.

    And it should go without saying that ALL new houses must withstand major hurricanes.
    There is simply no alternatives.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, the building code must be enforced any new buildings should be constructed to hurricane resistant specs within reason, elevation,shutters,block construction.
      When you look at the devastation most of the homes are light frame timber or steel stud same as in tornado prone areas trailer parks and wood frame are the first to go
      its common sense that if you live in a hurricane zone you elevate and build with strength.

    • Anonymous says:

      Interesting perspective. Like you I figure we can ride out a Cat 3 or less. But to me we’re not ready if we can’t handle a Cat 5. Like you I agree no one in the world is at that state of readiness. So interesting way to look at it.

    • Anonymous says:

      @2:23 pm
      run the numbers: hurricane straps+labor, vs. new roof.
      And like I said CIG should have financially assisted people to secure their houses built before Ivan. Your government is your servant, not your boss. The money they spend left and right is not their money, it is your money. They spend it like their own, wherever they feel like. And you allow this to happen.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It would be good if public works could actually maintain the drains in and along the roads throughout the year. They seem to be constantly clogged up so any heavy rain keeps flooding certain areas.

  7. Coconut says:

    If a hurricane such as Irma was to hit cayman, seven mile beach would no longer exist. Tropical gardens straight up to woodland drive will be under water. What measures has the government made since hurricane Ivan? None.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is it up to the government to protect you from a storm? What really can they do other than provide shelters and control the policing? You choose to live in an area that is prone to weather so prepare yourself accordingly.

      • Anonymous says:

        Building adequate shelter would be prudent, one would think, in the 13 years since our last firsthand experience.

      • Anonymous says:

        Absolutely, many people have forgotten how Cayman was inundated. Also many people have forgotten or don’t know about the Ivan inundation map available at Lands & Survey Dept. I guess if you have to pay for it it’s not worth studying. My opinion is that we, are no more ready for major disaster than we were before Ivan except for many areas of Dart Development. Hopefully all see that most of Dart’s new buildings are elevated. Those with deep pockets can do this too but others, oh well they’re left to the mercy of the storm.

    • Anonymous says:

      what can the government do. Lets be serious now. if a cat 5 hits cayman. It’s done.

      NOTHING any government can do, will prevent that. Oh, lets be idiotic and think they can. What can they do? Build a glass bubble around cayman.

      The point being, not many buildings stand up to a cat 5. Just a fact.
      And water rises. Another fact. Can’t stop that.

      So, lets just pray a cat 5 hits everyone else, but us. Okay. Great.

      • Anonymous says:

        @12/09/2017 at 6:49 am you are wrong.
        Every house built after Ivan should have been built to the hurricane-related building codes and the GOVERNMENT’S role is to enforce it.

        • Anonymous says:

          The misconception is that a hurricane building code is designed to withstand a Cat5. Its not. A Cat5 is, by definition, ‘catastrophic damage to buildings’.

          • Anonymous says:

            Shhhh common sense has no place here. Let them think hurricane building codes are designed for cat 5’s LOL

          • Jotnar says:

            BS. The categorization is based on wind speed. The fact that a Cat 5 usually results in catastrophic damage is because buildings are not typically built to that standard. If you had a 165 mph winds and buildings were not catastrophically damaged it would still be a Cat 5.

      • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

        Done? DONE? You aren’t cut from the same cloth as many of us. Down, but not nearly out, as was the case after Ivan.

        Yes, at direct hit Cat 5 would create severe and catastrophic damage, but consider this: Hurricane Ivan, while the very wide eyewall centre was 20 miles SW of Grand Cayman, the eyewall itself was well over that wide. Ivan was going through an eyewall replacement cycle at the time, and while the NHC report 150 mph sustained winds, it likely was in the Cat 5 zone.

        Also, Ivan’s forward speed was so slow as to nearly be stationary. The storm surge washed over nearly all the island.

        All of that combined, the difference between Ivan’s impact and a direct hit from a Cat 5…… might be fairly negligible.

    • Caymanian says:

      LOL! What exactly can the CI Gov do to prevent parts of the island from flooding during a storm??? That was an ignorant statement.. America keeps shouting at the top of their lungs that they are the greatest country in the world yet they flood like crazy during storms.. Does that mean its Trumps fault? The wise man didn’t build his house away from the sand just because he didn’t like the view of the ocean you know.. Common sense still isnt common I see.. Smh

  8. Anonymous says:

    We have Mcleary Frederick and Hazard Management, doing nothing for most of the year, protecting us. Isn’t that enough?

  9. Concerned says:

    Let God be the deciding factor, in otherwards if its to come no powers can turn it back. Even though Cayman dodged this one, maybe there will be one formed specially for Cayman, so dont get too complacent. Remember the season is still on.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hard question: can you ever prepare enough for a Cat5 hurricane? (I guess serious ‘prepers’ are the only ones who could say yes. And they wouldn’t.)

    • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

      “Preparing” is for all categories of tropical cyclones. As it turns out, some of us have written hurricane plans that involve our MAGs (mutual assurance groups) and for various categories of hurricanes and/or anticipated vectors, the preparing might be to haul several loads of life-sustaining goods into a cave or private shelter.

      There are structures in all three islands which have a higher probability of resistance to wind and sea surge. Wherever possible, there’s nothing like the security of having 40 feet of rock over your head and under your feet to feel protected.

      Short answer: Prepare as much as you can. Please don’t feel that if you are unable to prepare for a Cat 5 that you shouldn’t prepare at all. We all do the best we can, even if that is buying a few canned goods and bottled water every week and putting it away in the closet. Ultimately, it is our own responsibility. Don’t depend upon the government to make things better.

      • Anonymous says:

        Didn’t mean to imply ‘if you can’t prep for Cat5 don’t bother’. I agree with your POV there. It was more a comment on the survey question. ‘Prepared’ means different things to different people. Especially the difference between personal & national preparations. As someone else (higher up) said ‘we’re prepped for a Cat3 and that’s good enough as you can’t fully prep a country for a Cat5’. Which is an interesting viewpoint.

        • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

          My apologies for the zeal. I was wearing a camo boonie hat at the time, if that matters. 😀

          Agree with you. At a presumed “Cat 5 preparation” a person/family is just trying to survive the storm and hopefully some time afterward until some semblance of help/supplies/order occurs. If complete anarchy, I suppose we should be prepared to defend our individual fifedoms with machetes, shovels and axes.

          Medical supplies might play a very important part here, and that is much of what the CIG should/could be doing: Ensuring that there are not only adequate stores of med supplies, but a rotating stock of them. I know, I know, it boggles the mind to imagine the HSA employing a dilligent FIFO (first in, first out) methodology. I think I could write that legislation.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Survey shouldn’t conflate “storm” with “hurricane”. The prospects of survivability of a good tropical storm vs. the life-ending surge inundation of a hurricane above Cat 2 are totally different animals, and the response would be very different for most people. Personally, I am in awe of the natural beauty of a good storm or gale and would happily sit through one a few days a year. Anything more serious, most of us would prefer to watch on TV from far away!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Might as well ask how long is a piece of string. Like the islands devastated by Irma, there is no preparation the government could make that would allow them to honestly say Cayman is completely ready for a direct hit from a storm with winds of 150mph, let alone 180mph. At that level, we would be in the realm of the unknown. Not their fault – simply a fact of life.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not true. Some buildings still stand with no damage in devastated areas.

      • Anonymous says:

        And some that should, don’t. Despite the best engineering intention you’re int he realm of the unknown until the Cat5 slaps your building. (Then afterwards you don’t know how degraded the materials are and if they can take a second one.)

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