Officials begin pre-season hurricane exercises

| 03/05/2018 | 4 Comments

(CNS): With just four weeks to go before the start of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, relevant government officials began their preparation exercises this week. The National Hazard Management Council met Tuesday at the start of the National Hurricane Exercise, which has been named for Kirkland Nixon, the former fire chief and a pioneer in hurricane preparedness, who died Monday. The goal of the exercise is to “critically assess the response capability and coordination of the various agencies involved”, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said.

The hurricane exercise also helps officials identify areas of weakness before the first storm and ensure Cayman is in a maximum state of readiness.

It ran through the entire day on 2 May and concluded with a review of lessons learned during the exercise, and recommendations for adjustments and updates to the National Plan from the Council, Emergency Support Teams and NOEC Cluster Managers.

2018 is forecast to be an above average season, with most of the early forecasts pointing to around 14-18 named storms and at least seven hurricanes. It is almost 14 years since Hurricane Ivan smashed into Grand Cayman and 10 years since Hurricane Paloma struck Cayman Brac. But since then, Cayman has enjoyed a decade relatively unscathed, while the region has still experienced some devastating impacts, especially last year with hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria.

Officials are always keen to remind the public that, regardless of the long-range forecasts and predictions about the potential storm activity for any season, it only takes one to wreak havoc. The government, therefore, continues to urge everyone to begin their private preparations this month. But it starts by getting its own house in order.

Deputy Director of Preparedness Danielle Coleman explained, “A typical table top exercise involves key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an informal setting and it can be a very useful tool for assessing plans, policies and procedures. The scenario is expected to provide a reasonably realistic depiction of a hurricane on approach, the impact and post impact and it will allow us to examine the country’s planning mechanisms.”

Coleman said it was important to practise to ensure issues such as inter-agency coordination are operating as they should and the training needs of personnel involved in the command and control of crisis situations are up to date so people are competent and confident in their roles.

Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers commended all public and private sector personnel for taking an active role in the exercise. “These simulation exercises are important as they enable us to critically assess the response capability and coordination of the various agencies involved. They also help to identify areas that may need strengthening prior to the start of the hurricane season, ensuring that we are in a maximum state of readiness,” she said.

At the end of May, RFA Mounts Bay will also be in the Cayman Islands to conduct a landing exercise as part of the preparations for this year’s hurricane season. The Royal Navy will replicate the landing of heavy-duty equipment and supplies in the aftermath of a disaster.

RFA Mounts Bay was critical to the recovery response in a number of other Overseas Territories following the devastation of Irma and Maria in 2017. The ability to deploy immediate help at short notice and be prepared well in advance of any major disaster is an essential part of the Cayman Islands’ ongoing planning.

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Category: Local News, Science & Nature, Weather

Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This hurricane season is predicted to be a be a very active one and God forbid if we get a strike. God have mercy on us.
    I miss that calm professional voice of Mr Affic or Mr. Fredrick and alway felt we were safe in the hands with those two, now am seriously very very worried.

  2. E. Nygma says:

    The Illusion of preparedness is what we excel at
    at the end of the day when the hurricane is two days away staring us down people are still out and about running around like chickens without their heads
    and God forbid (literally and metaphorically) that we get hit by a serious hurricane anytime soon, we could easily find ourselves in the same situation Puerto Rico remains in
    especially with hurricane seasons like last year becoming increasingly likely
    We already know the UK thinks we are too rich of a territory to send anything other than the bare minimum of aid

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