UK’s military taking hurricane season seriously

| 22/06/2018 | 26 Comments
Cayman News Service

Lieutenant Colonel Rich Maltby

(CNS): Two senior officers from the UK’s Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) have been in the Cayman Islands this week to discuss disaster relief plans, as Britain aims to make sure that if any of its territories are hit in the region this season, they are better prepared than last year. The military visitors were Lieutenant Colonel Rich Maltby from the Royal Marines and Squadron Leader John Kirkman from the Royal Air Force. Officials said they came to ensure the British Overseas Territories and the UK are as prepared as possible to coordinate specialist personnel, stores and emergency supplies in the event a storm hits.

“Advanced planning for disasters is vital to reduce the impacts of the violent storms and other natural disasters that our Overseas Territories are prone to,” said Lt Col Maltby. “The ability of the OTs to provide mutual support is important to enhance any military response and other regional assistance. The role played by the Islands last year in deploying police, aviation and medical teams made a real difference in stabilising the affected territories.”

He added, “The Cayman Islands’ teams worked closely with UK military units and we are committed to enhancing this cooperation to ensure that our response is as swift and effective as possible.”

Maltby and Kirkman have been working closely with Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI), the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Governor’s Office to discuss the plans for coordinating the UK’s and the regional response to any potential disasters in the Overseas Territories.

The UK officers also met with a range of organisations who would be key players locally to any disaster response including RCIPS units, the airport authority, the prison, utility and transport providers. The visit also included a briefing for Legislative Assembly members on UK military capabilities and planning.

Staff from the Governor’s Office, HMCI and the Ministry of Home Affairs will also travel to London next week to take part in talks with the UK and other regional countries and organisations on enhancing regional cooperation on disaster relief operations.

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Comments (26)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh please! Where were they when Hurricane Ivan leveled our islands? Lol.. Stationary in their navy ship at the water front where they stayed a few days then departed! Cayman survived without them then so what’s the hype this season?!

  2. Anon says:

    So, it out Government going to let them in this time, in a timely manner?

  3. anonymous says:

    All talk – we will be on our own as was the case post Ivan. All this was said after Ivan and look what happened to our sister OTs. No plan!

    • History lesson says:

      Alden and McKeeva must have forgotten about the 75 blankets that the UK offered after Hurricane Ivan. Boris Johnson will tell the world Cayman’s GDP is too high for financial relief.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Where will all the garbage go?. If another hurricane like Mr. Ivan would hit cayman again. Because i visit the landfill Monday-Saturday too dispose garbage and there is always a problem finding space too dispose my garbage also the containers at the entrance of the landfill is always full and the garbage always all over the ground sometimes if the containers maybe empty the garbage is on the ground blocking the empty containers that you cannot get to dispose your garbage in the empty containers that is available. Also for over twenry years now the landfill road that i have to drive on for me to get to dispose my garbage on the hill call mount trashmore is full of pot-holes, rocky and terrible and whenever it rain most of the time vehicles cannot drive on the road because it is so soft mucky and disgusting. Government after government and Budget after Budget and the landfill road still not fixed. I hope the Uk’s military visited the landfill because the landfill is of High importance because that is where all of the garbage have to go After-math of any hurricane or any form of disaster.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Everyone appears too focused on response and not enough on readiness.

    They confuse preparedness with disaster management- response and recovery.

    Preparedness is the main way of reducing the impact of disasters.

    Focus should be more on hardening buildings and infrastructure. More stringent building codes are overdue. All newly constructed buildings must be built to perform under the extreme high-pressure conditions that occur during hurricanes, from the window systems or units to the rooftop equipment. Impact-resistant glass, strong connection between the building and its roofing systems, etc.

    Emergency water and fuel reserves, generators are part of the preparedness for the bigger and stronger storms. But hurricane-safe buildings, sturdy sewage plants should be higher on priority lists.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great points – but if we were serious we would put main power lines underground!

    • Anonymous says:

      Their job is to respond. It’s your job to be prepared.

    • Sam Small says:

      Cayman upgraded it building codes in 2016 to IBC 2009, however since 2005 we have used 150mph for building design combined with seismic factors. The buildings in Cayman undergo an approval from the government for life safety.

      With any extreme weather event the problem is the aftermath and combined with being an island to bring in additional resources to deal with replacement of water damaged goods plus the reinstatement of wind borne damage to utility service both overhead and underground.

      Most domestic generator only have a three day tank so are relient on the limited fuel supply trucks to refuel them. Without power modern communions will not work or AC.

      The planning has to be to deal with the 3 months after the event and not just the first two weeks.

      • Anonymous says:

        @4:50 pm. Can you be more specific about building codes? Does that mean that all buildings constructed after 2016 are hurricane proved? Residential and commercial?

        • Anonymous says:


          The caveat is that the more robust you build your house (office, etc.) the more it costs. So Planning, etc., try to balance cost with robustness. A 150 mile per hour wind is a (high) category 4 hurricane. So a practical goal for buildings but not one that guarantees that you’ll be able to ride out a Cat. 5 strike. Similarly, buildings were hurricane rated before 2016/2005/etc. But one of the lessons learned was the need to inspect/replace hurricane straps after a bad storm. Something you will not have time to do if you get hit by two Cat. 5 storms in a season (see NW Carib in 2017). The point is that mother nature will often find a way to throw more at you than you can reasonably prepare for, so along with hurricane rated buildings, post-storm plans (personal & national) are also needed. Because sometimes all you can plan for is how you’re going to dig out afterwards.

          So, 150mph may make sense for homes, 175 (high Cat. 5) may make sense for some Govt. buildings to use for emergency shelters & business continuity after the storm but even for other CIG buildings 150mph may be an adequate balance between up-front cost and likelihood of loss.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yes, we know we are the best citizens of the group of UK territories. Time you started treating us as such.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, aside from the massive tax avoidance you facilitate like parasites and the massive reputational damage that causes you are super.

  7. Anonymous says:

    About time,Ivan experience should have moved things immediately.

    • zut alors says:

      7.36pm I hope we learned our own lesson in Ivan, and we will no longer deliberately understate damage to protect the tourism industry.

      • Anonymous says:

        zut alors you expressed a good hope but part of your hope is based on a false premise. A closer look will reveal the damage understatement after Hurricane Ivan was apparently driven by concerns about the finance industry, not the tourism industry.

        In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, it would have been pointless to play pretend “to protect the tourism industry.” Furthermore, as far as I and others in the general public know, the tourism industry chiefs were not the ones lobbying for any understatement or downplaying of the catastrophe, because the real extent of the physical damage to tourism infrastructure meant there could be no tourism industry anyway for quite a while afterward.

        And when the tourism industry restarted, for many months it was only for cruise tourism. For people dependent on tourism for their livelihoods, cruise tourism and the cruise passengers it brought to our devastated island were a godsend. The devastation that had occurred to the airport and to tourism accommodation properties took many more months before stayover (“air arrival visitors”) tourism could resume. So it made sense to focus initially on the restorations that would enable cruise visits to resume, and the cruise lines responded admirably by restarting ship calls to the island as soon as the facilities were adequate – I believe it was a month or so after the hurricane strike.

        And so by the way, those who marginalize or deny the great importance of the cruise tourism industry to our island must either have short memories or else they must be comfortably insulated from the realities of the many thousands of persons that after Ivan were very dependent upon income derived from cruise tourism and enterprises that provide services supporting it.

        But anyway unless you have some “insider knowledge” otherwise, for those of us in the general public in Cayman there was no indication of any tourism industry lobbying for understatement driven by a rationale “to protect the tourism industry”.

        You can hope instead that “we will no longer deliberately understate damage to protect the finance industry”. The general public in Cayman did see strong evidence of pressure brought to bear by the finance industry chiefs right after Hurricane Ivan – not saying their intentions weren’t good, I’m just telling it like it was so we don’t plan or hope for a future based on wrong interpretations or mistaken assumptions about the past. Otherwise, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we remember better, we can do better!

        • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

          The understatement as well as the suspect reporting of actual wind speed was done so as to prevent C.I. from being moved into another insurance risk category and consequently pushing insurance premiums through the roof. Think about this.

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