New BT church will be public hurricane shelter

| 13/09/2018 | 45 Comments
Cayman News Service

Bodden Town church building

(CNS): Government is currently in talks to adapt the new Bodden Town Church of God building, which is under development, into a public hurricane shelter. Answering a parliamentary question by Newlands MLA Alva Suckoo last week during the Legislative Assembly meeting on Cayman Brac, Minister Joseph Hew, who has oversight of public works, said the government was collaborating on a draft agreement between Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) and the church about the use of the facility. The Public Works Department is also preparing the drawing package to be used in the tendering process for selection of a suitable contractor, Hew said.

Bodden Town is the fastest growing district in the Cayman Islands but has just two hurricane shelters, one at the civic centre and the other at the school, neither of which is currently rated to withstand a hurricane above category 3.

While the church was always meant to be adapted for those purposes, the project was stalled in 2011 when funding was cut. The local MLAs for the district, Anthony Eden in Savannah, Chris Saunders in Bodden Town West and Suckoo, said they had been advocating for the project for six years.

“It is hoped that this project will be completed in time for the 2019 hurricane season,” Suckoo said after the minister’s confirmation that the project was now back on track. He thanked the minister for pushing the project forward, saying this was in “contrast to the previous administration’s negligible effort in four years to advance the project”, despite having served in that government for the first 18 months before jumping from the PPM ship.

Suckoo said that in 2016, when the legislature approved $2 million for an additional hurricane shelter for Cayman Brac, the opposition pressed the issue of the shortage of shelters in Bodden Town. At that time Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell said government would try to find the around CI$125,000 needed for the BT church to move forward.

Given that nothing happened, the Suckoo raised the issue again in the 2017 budget proceedings, when he said that the building could be completed for less than $2 million, but no funding were found to get things moving. Suckoo had argued that the church hall could also serve as a community centre, hosting district events such as school concerts, graduations and other gatherings too large for current district venues.

With Tropical Storm Isaac on the horizon, Suckoo said this week that the shortage of shelters in Bodden Town was at the forefront of concerns. Frustrated at the pace of response, Suckoo said that while he supported government efforts in offering help to other Caribbean countries in their times of crisis, the people here were also at risk.

“It was frustrating to think that at the same time the safety of our own people was being given such a low priority,” he said. “With the inadequacy of shelter facilities for Bodden Town, especially for residents of low-lying areas, God forbid that we should have another Ivan this year.”

He said he was grateful the project is at long last moving forward, but the delay in the resumption of work on the church has not been without its serious associated risks, and he appealed to government to consider the consequences of inaction and delay in areas of public safety.

“We have to do better. This cavalier attitude on the part of those charged with the responsibility for the safety of its own people is not only disturbing, it also borders on dereliction of duty,” he added.

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Category: Local News

Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    CNS, Mr Suckoo was actually a part of the PPM Administration from May 2013 to December 2015 which is more like 31 months. So what Alva is saying that for 2.5yrs he did nothing towards finishing the building, while being a part of ” the previous administration’s negligible effort”. I think it is a good idea to remind readers that he campaigned as part of the PPM team who took a stand against the Nation Bldg Fund which was being used by Government to fund the construction/completion of these buildings.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The hurricane shelter for Cayman Brac is a monumental waste of money. There is adequate shelter space between the official and unofficial shelters on the island plus the homes on the Bluff. Give BT money to complete their shelter! For the record I am a Cayman Bracker.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Would a hurricane shelter/church offer salvation to gays and suchlike? Would hosting these gay people make it more of a target for the vengeance of God? Would the God fearing folks allow this abomination???

    I think the government needs to make it clear where gays are welcome to shelter, or are they going to construct hurricane rated closets?

    Just asking, as it seems there is a tiered system of basic rights here.

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      9:06 pm , are you implying that the government has to build gay hurricane shelters too ? If so , where would it end ?

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      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not implying. I’m suggesting. It’d be good science too. Would the gays get more licked than the Christians in a hurricane? If they don’t, then God obviously has no grudge with them, and we can legalize gay marriage with a clear conscience.

        Where does it end? Equal rights maybe?

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  4. Ron Ebanks says:

    I wonder if the government is thinking of these shelters being completely safe in the event of a hurricane that could be worse than Ivan . Is these shelters far enough to the center of the Island away from the water ? Are they elevated high enough to avoid flooding ? Are these shelters self-efficiently equipped to be a shelter in times of a disaster crisis ?

    But why are government in the business of building Churches that will be used as a shelter ? Then got to make sure that the bidding process goes out to the qualified Contractor Company . FISHY .

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  5. Anonymous says:

    If the planning laws are being enforced, why do we need shelters?

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    • Anonymous says:

      because building everything to Cat5 rating would price many people out of their home (owned or rented, including apartments). – Same reason people in America are currently having to evacuate. A country just can’t afford to build everything ‘hurricane proof’.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And because some of the homes predated the Islands’ building code, or are located in a location that has special risks, etc.

        Even some of the newer homes are no match for the power of storm surge.

        As someone observed , that is why we see on the news the masses of cars bumper to bumper as they leave the coastal areas of the US when a hurricane threatens.

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      • Ron Ebanks says:

        Anonymous 4:11 pm , very good point , and that’s why it’s in the constitution the government is responsible to protecting the Citizens of the Islands , so that everyone don’t have to build hurricane proof houses , but not made of cardboard is where CPA comes in .

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      • Anonymous says:

        If you can’t afford to live here you should leave.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Visitors first- we build a boardwalk, then residents -no money for a shelter.

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    • Anonymous says:

      8.17am Your approach to Government spending is one of the reasons we can’t get too much done here in Cayman. With selective criticism of Government, persons complain about Government spending on a project they don’t favour, then get voters riled up and try to stop it ( much like the present anti PPM led resistance to the port ) then when it is needed in the future they complain because Govt moved on to another project. Remember the huge outcry for Government not to assist with this same facility in Bodden Town in 2013. Wonder if Mr Suckoo campaigned as part of a team that wanted it stopped? Were You? I bet you were against it then; now you complain because other areas of need were addressed and your now favourite project was not. Go figure.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Calling on the West Bay veteran poltician and the speaker of the house. When will you make sure the district of West Bay get an a strong, spacious, highly, equipped and high off of the ground Hurricane shelter and civic centre?. It is long, overdue please do not point any finger at any other poltician or say you only represent WB West. You were the leader for election and the district of West Bay election after election and still the leader for West Bay and that will not change anytime soon. Because majority of West Bay people remain in that deep sleep and hopelessness.

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    • anonymous says:

      The fact that so many West Bayers remain in a deep sleep and a state of hopelessness is nothing to do with the economy.

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  8. jah know star says:

    will it be ready b4 Hurricane issac reaches on monday?

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Of course, it’s the long-stalled Church of God construct that gets our money (again). We don’t have any conflict checks at all in this government.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    When it’s finished being built in 2176. They broke ground on this thing about 9 years ago.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Did this start with Makeewa’s Nation Building Fund????????

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  12. God is Great says:

    In my humble opinion, it should be a shelter … but not home to a church or religious entity.

    Why?

    BECAUSE IT WAS TAX PAYERS MONEY THAT CONTRIBUTED TO BUILDING IT.

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    • Bodden Towner says:

      You forget one thing. The church also helped contributed. So they should be honored with being its caretakers.

      Besides, less money for government in having to do it themselves. This eay, the tax payers contribution is paid off.

      I see nothing morally wrong with partnerships between government and faith based organizations. So long the tax payers monies is paid off with some kind of service. In this case, more than likely it will happen if the church cares for it 🙂

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      • Anonymous says:

        So why is a boardwalk and a cruise pier more important than keeping our people safe? I agree with the other poster. We need a dedicated shelter not another church. Next thing we know the church will be demanding the right to decide who gets to shelter there, and we all know how arbitrary that could be.

        If the church was helping to fund it why didn’t the church finish it? Why did all work stop when CIG pulled the plug on funding? Why do we need yet another church in BT when we so desperately need a shelter?

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      • Ron Ebanks says:

        Boden Towner , I am sorry to burst your bubble . The Church will contribute with FAITH , and the government will contribute TAXPAYERS MONEY to build the Church/shelter . That is morally ethically wrong for the government to do , but I see why the government is doing it . Do you ? Don’t forget that corruption is widely used in the Island .

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  13. Anonymous says:

    waste of money and just another freebie for the church….

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Will homosexuals be allowed to take shelter there?

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Lo and behold, the slush fund is back. If I build my liquor store to the same standard and allow it’s use as a shelter, presumably I can expect the same level of support?

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