All clear given as clean-up rolls on

| 18/08/2021 | 62 Comments

(CNS) UPDATED 7pm: The ‘All Clear’ from Hurricane Grace has now been given. The National Emergency Operations Centre formally issued an all clear for Grand Cayman, with effect from 6pm Wednesday evening. Nevertheless the Cayman Islands is still experiencing bands of strong winds and torrential rain. Acting Deputy Governor Gloria McField-Nixon said 80 percent of damage assessment has been completed on Grand Cayman but work will continue on Thursday.

The work of utilities restoration and recovery will continue overnight in less than ideal conditions, and is expected to take some time. There is also still debris to be cleared on some roads and localised flooding.

“As a result I would like to ask the community to remain in their homes overnight. This will allow the utilities crews to finish their work as quickly and as safely as possible. The current poor weather conditions make the roads dangerous for any driver and remaining in your homes while these conditions continues is the best way to protect yourself and our community,” she added.,

The hurricane watch was lifted around 4pm Wednesday, but the National Hazard Management Council retained the tropical storm warning for Grand Cayman as wind bands and torrential rain continued to affect the island.

Roads remained treacherous, not just as a result of the continued heavy rain and flooding but also downed power lines, trees and other debris littering the highways. Grace has had a widespread impact across all three Islands, in particular on Grand Cayman.

The Department of Public Safety Communications has dealt with more than 130 calls in the last 24 hours, with calls continuing into the evening. Meanwhile, the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) helpline responded to 180 requests for information and support between early and mid-morning.

Travel Cayman teams, which have been working throughout the severe weather event to monitor and support more than 1,300 people quarantining privately or at government facilities, also dealt with some 60 calls in the same period.

Acting Deputy Governor Gloria McField-Nixon urged everyone to remain in their homes and off the roads until the all-clear is given for Grand Cayman. 

“We appreciate that the movement of Hurricane Grace away from the Cayman Islands has lessened the threat of winds, but the tail of the storm has given rise to other extensive threats including heavy rainfall, debris, downed power lines and widespread power outages,” she said.

Grace reached hurricane status around 10am local time, when it was located 69 miles west of the Cayman Islands. As a result, the Islands were spared the hurricane-force winds, which extended only 20 miles out from the centre of the cyclone, but continued to be impacted by tropical storm winds.

As it moved away Wednesday afternoon, Premier Wayne Panton said the storm had impacted everyone, including the loss of power or water, downed trees and broken glass, and boats being torn from their moorings.

“Worse, some of us have seen the effects of storm surges and the flooding caused to some waterfront properties, most notably on canals,” he said. “We will always remember Grace, but it is still by the grace of God, that the disaster was not far worse. We should, and we do, give thanks for that. Our authorities did a magnificent job from predicting the storm’s path and intensity to the well-organised preparations that were quickly and flexibly put in place. Our collective thanks go to the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) and the team of dedicated officials and volunteers for their tremendous efforts.”

He said it was now everyone’s turn to do their part to get the country back to normal as soon as possible.

“First, we must follow the advice of public safety officials,” he said, adding that both he and the governor would be visiting areas in Grand Cayman to assess damage and flooding to ensure the necessary resources are deployed to assist those in need.

“Please be safe and follow all precautions when clearing debris in your homes and surroundings. Make sure stagnant water is not left standing around your homes lest mosquitoes begin to breed. Let us keep our children, our elders, our vulnerable and ourselves safe in the coming days and going forward,” he added.

Meanwhile, the NEOC’s debris clearance committee is already out in the field on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac working to clear roads among other tasks. Damage assessment committees in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman have already made preliminary assessments of those islands. The Grand Cayman team has begun its own evaluation process, which is more wide-ranging, since the storm passed close to the south coast of Grand Cayman.

The NEOC’s Utilities Cluster said severe weather has impacted telecommunications, power and water suppliers, all of which had teams in the office and in the field working to address the issues. Digicel and Flow are reporting impacts ranging from congestion to outages. CUC has crews in the field dealing with system assessments across Grand Cayman and will be working overnight to reconnected thousands of customers.

Meanwhile, Cayman Water Company has since restored its distribution network in West Bay which was disconnected early this morning. The Water Authority says there are no outages on its distribution system but there are reports of service lines being damaged by fallen trees.

Despite damage to homes and buildings, just 36 people on Grand Cayman and five on Little Cayman are currently in emergency shelters.

Government officials have also confirmed that the port authority cargo distribution centre has been damaged, and as teams were unable to fully assess and repair the damage today the facility will be closed tomorrow and is now scheduled to reopen Friday.

Cayman Airways is expecting to begin flying again tomorrow. The airline said one of its retired B737-300s, which was in storage on the tarmac by the airline’s hangar at Owen Roberts International Airport, was moved from its fully chocked positions by the wind into the perimeter fence, which caused some damage to its removable nose cone.

“Cayman Airways’ aircraft engineers will thoroughly assess and repair the damage when it is safe to do so, but as these B737-300 aircraft are not in active service and are currently in a storage programme, the airline’s normal operations are not expected to be affected,” officials said. “All active duty aircraft will also have appropriate inspections and checks accomplished to ensure that each aircraft suffered no hidden damage from exposure to the extreme winds associated with the passage of Tropical Storm Grace before being returned to service.”

The airline said it expected to have a serviceable fleet of aircraft for Thursday provided the checks are satisfactory.

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Comments (62)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wayne Panton: “Our authorities did a magnificent job from predicting the storm’s path and intensity to the well-organised preparations…”

    Seems that the head of our government is breathtakingly clueless to the fact that “predicting the storm’s path and intensity” is well beyond the Cayman Islands National Weather Service’s capabilities. To cap it off, the CINWS web has had this message since well before the approach of the storm: “Weather Radar is currently down for maintenance. We are sorry for any inconvenience.” No prob, Panton can get his storm path and intensity forecasts from the CINWS. I think I shall stick with NOAA/NHS for the foreseeable future.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hurricane forecasters always say that if you are in the right front quadrant (dirty side of the storm), which we were, you have to add together the wind speeds and the forward motion of the storm to get a more accurate picture. So even 65 mph + 15 mph would be 80 mph. Add gusts on top of that and it would certainly be 90 mph or more.
    By the way, the National Hurricane Centre has been saying for many years that they are becoming very good at predicting the tracks of storm, but not so great with intensity forecasts. In this case they were way off with the track. Over the weekend they had it going north of Cuba and Cayman wasn’t even in the cone, certainly not Grand Cayman. A couple of days later they had it going north of the Sister Islands. Then look what happened…

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think we need to re-evaluate our message of ‘All Clear’. It was announced at 6:00 pm yet last night and even this morning Radio Cayman News and traffic was still telling everyone to stay off the roads and avoid essential travel… due to trees and power lines being down and CUC crews being out and about. Perhaps ‘All Clear’ needs to be redefined? or delayed?

    • Anonymous says:

      Completely agree huge mistake putting people at risk with all clear given and totally unsafe driving conditions, amateur move. Even if it does relate to the storm passing, people interpret this message as it’s ok to be on the roads – next time just say the storm has passed!

      • Anonymous says:

        Having said that, from what I saw on Wednesday night the many usually awful drivers seem to actually drive much better in these conditions. I think it may be to do with their being no traffic lights working, multiple obstacles in the road and dangerously wet conditions – they know in these events that they will definitely get hit and maybe killed if they don’t keep their eyes peeled, give way at junctions, indicate and drive at appropriate speeds

  4. Anonymous says:

    What does ALL CLEAR mean under the circumstances?

  5. Anonymous says:

    The management of this storm was poor from given employees 1 hour to leave work to prep to the lack of information provided by the respective government authorities. We are tired of lip service, please do your jobs and save lives. Had this storm turned to a category 2 lives would have been lost and their blood would have been on all of your hands. Shame on you all. How can a person purchase ply and put them on in 1 hour? Let alone the long lines and traffic! Most of us don’t have the luxury of most of you so please take the less fortunate into consideration. POOR CAYMANIAN LIVES MATTER!

  6. Anon says:

    There are definitely points to learn from this storm. But, and this is a big but….hazard management are supposed to own this stuff. We should not be ‘learning’ basic stuff like utility supply AFTER an event. It should be planned for and resilience built in to infrastructure. The power should not go out for hours in a TS. Mobile and wifi should not go down. The police should change the vehicle fleet to equip them with land rovers. Emergency vehicles should be fitted out with appropriate equipment, winches, rope, chainsaws, cutting equipment tarps, first aid and on and on. And if Hazard management were doing their job properly that equipment would be ready and police would be trained to use it and be certified in first aid. First aid kits should be in every police vehicle. All of this kind of stuff is BASIC planning but I bet if the press asked searching questions people won’t be trained and the equipment won’t be available. Cayman can and should fo better.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Bermuda has a fully robust infrastructure that caters to the modern needs of international business. We’re strong, united and very different to other offshore centres. I’m proud to see this community get up and running within hours of such a direct hurricane hit.”

      ✅Bermuda has opened for business, just one day after Hurricane Paulette, a Category 2 storm, passed directly over the island.
      ✅Nicole was a Category 3, going on a Category 4 hurricane, October 13,2016 (Thursday). An estimated 27,000 homes, or 90 percent of the island’s population, lost power…It’s remarkable that one day after a major hurricane strike, Bermuda is open for business
      ✅Over four centuries, Bermuda has built a unique infrastructure to protect islanders and businesses from severe weather. Homes, hotels and other buildings are made of Bermuda limestone or cement block, with roofs of slate strong enough to withstand extreme winds.

      How Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (BELCO)prepares for hurricanes:
      •The company’s fleet of trucks is fully fuelled and stocked.
      • Line crews are mobilised, and crews and equipment are positioned at safe, strategic locations across the Island.
      • Essential staff, such as Customer Care Representatives, are put on alert to come into work as soon as it is safe to do so, after the storm eases.
      • Throughout the storm, engineers in the Operations Centre monitor the entire system.
      • BELCO’s power generation plant is staffed and continues to operate during storms.
      • • BELCO maintains a list of customers on life support equipment that requires electricity and priority is given to restoring power to these customers;

    • Anonymous says:

      Say what? Which country in the world has WIFI during a hurricane?

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually the Wifi in my house worked perfectly. Now the internet connection from my router to the outside world was a problem…

        Lot of complaining about 1st world problems here. All this can be dealt with but there would be a heavy cost to harden all of the infrastructure.

        I don’t see Caymanians and residents really wanting to pay for the levels of redundancy that would be required.

      • Anonymous says:

        Flow had a mobile signal throughout Ivan and afterwards. The old Blackberry worked a treat.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Very much apparent that the island would be a disaster zone in anything stronger than a Cat 2.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good to know that you finally came to this realisation

      We need more people with that understanding to help the other newbies appreciate this fact of life on a small spit in the middle of a hurricane zone

      Research the annualised probability of a named storm passing within 40/60 miles of GT Harbour


  8. Anonymous says:

    Where was the famed “Regiment”? Or did their wet weather gear not get delivered yet?
    I saw many people out clearing debris off the roads but not one person in camouflage…but maybe that’s it, they were camouflaged. We really could have used their chainsaws…

    • Anonymous says:

      They were out, even when the storm was raging.
      I saw them working on clearing the highway at around 9am.
      Where were you?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Government can’t fix a dump.
    Government can’t provide a plan to reopen the island.
    Government can’t improve education and local conditions.
    Do you really think Government cares about island structure to face a hurricane?
    And it was not even a hurricane

    • Anonymous says:

      Fact check: it was a Hurricane at its closest point to SW Point

      Check the map

      Also, mini tornadoes do significant damage

      Fact check: these tornadoes don’t even need tropical storm/Cat 1 hurricane strength to form and destroy

      Research Hurricane Andrew

  10. Anonymous says:

    I would have assumed our infrastructure could have withstood a TS. telecom and electricity both collapsed seemingly at the same time. We deserve better and must demand it.

    • Lola says:

      The electricity did not ‘collapse’. It is standard to turn off the power at a certain windspeed due to anticipation that power lines etc might get blown down.

      The last thing you want in a storm is live power lines starting fires when they connect with branches and other debris.

      • Anonymous says:

        Crazy how many people don’t get this. However, we should have more lines underground

        • Anonymous says:

          I will admit I did not appreciate the utilities being proactively turned off as a safety precaution. Which, now that I know, seems reasonable, albeit inconvenient, and not aligning with the messaging by CUC at the time. Let’s not get bogged down on that point.

          However, I think my broader point remains. Shouldn’t our utility grid be more resilient? I am surprised by the amount damage and repairs required to restore the grid. I do however appreciate the brave men and women of CUC, who continue to work around the clock to complete the repairs. I am not sure I have the testicular fortitude (regardless of having those “parts” or not) to handle high voltage wires in dark, wet and windy conditions. That level of bravery is not lost on me.

  11. Anonymous says:

    There was a point when the wind dropped, did the eye pass over us?

    • Anonymous says:

      It remains to be seen in the eye of the beholder as our authorities don’t see the need to be recording or reporting that kind of information.

    • Anonymous says:

      There was a brief period mid to late morning. While the storm center was offshore, we may have had outer eye wall features extend onto the island which would have caused a short lull in the winds .

    • Anonymous says:

      True, at 6:55 am the wind and rain completely stopped in the area near JGHS for about 10-15 minutes. Then the wind/rain started again very quickly and strong.

  12. Anonymous says:

    So many trees down! the south side of Seven Mile Beach took another loss. No beach again south of Royal Palms. XXXX Hopefully CUC can get the electricity back up soon. Glad the water is turned on again

  13. Anonymous says:

    At about 5:30 at Rum Point it was blowing 78 mph when they turned off our juice. The 2 minute average was 81 mph at that time. The highest gust up until then was 99 mph which is the limit of the equipment. With no power we got no readings after that. The NHC weather plane that called the hurricane did not arrive until a good while later, so there is no real info from 5:30 until the plane reported after the storm center was past. One wonders whether Cayman has any actual weather station of its own (the airport?) and why actual Cayman wind speeds and rainfall are nowhere reported.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Where is the punk that told us in the comments on a prior story that this was going further south of Cayman?

    Would like to anoint him as Jackass of the Year!

    • Anonymous says:

      One, it DID go further SW than Cayman.

      Two, we all need to study the systems ourselves and not depend upon anyone else’s opinions.

      Three, I am not that person, but where do you get off calling them a “punk” for expressing their opinion?

      • Anonymous says:

        Again, you need to brush up on your reading skills

        He never said that it “it (would) go further SW than Cayman”

        And if “punk” grinds you/him then maybe you/him will stop such foolish posts, get educated.

        There are people that still believe what is posted on here.

        Be responsible!

      • Anonymous says:

        Giving people false information in a potential life-and-death situation is NOT ok, especially when it was a very uninformed opinion that conflicted with the official NHC information. Yet this punk jackass made it sound like he was an expert and really knew what he was talking about – kind of like those who say COVID is just a flu. Some people are information savvy enough to know not to listen to anonymous idiots on a forum, but believe it or not, some people take what they read/watch as gospel. QANON is proof of that. The guy the OP was talking about was an irresponsible jerk for sure.

      • Anonymous says:

        He said “well south” – less than 20 miles isn’t “well south” and in fact, was the worst-case scenario for Cayman because we got the “dirty” northeast side of the storm – which is always the worst side in an Atlantic basin storm. Had it gone in between Grand Cayman and the Sisters like it was forecast to Tuesday morning, we likely wouldn’t have received wind half as strong as we did.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, he was a know-nothing jackass for sure.

    • Anonymous says:

      He’s probably the same dude posting about the vaccines being microchipped by Bill Gates causing people to be magnetized…

  15. Anonymous says:

    Clear demonstration of how flimsy Cayman infrastructure is. Imagine Cat.1-4 hurricane consequences.

    A lot to learn from Bermuda.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman really needs to build infrastructure resilience. The same thing happened last year and yet nothing has changed.

      How can the government say they are prepared when Tropical Storm Force winds bring the country to its knees . Time the government puts pressure on the utility companies to install a more robust infrastructure.

      • Anonymous says:

        Rather than harden infrastructure our leaders would rather bury their heads in the sand.

    • Anonymous says:

      Happy to send you there to learn. Take your time.

    • Anonymous says:

      You ae a clown. ever heard of Hurricane Ivan

    • Anonymous says:

      Hurricane Ivan was the real test, which we passed. I thought we were never going to be the same in September 2004, but we bounced back.

      Grace presented issues, but nothing we cannot use to identify areas required for improving in future times.

      Given that Grace has now cooled the Caribbean region, it is hoped that no Behemoth hits us (like it did on 11 September 2004: Hurricane Ivan).

    • Anonymous says:

      No need to imagine that

      You must be new around these parts

      Cats 1 through 4 are regular visitors in and around Cayman.

      I suggest you stick with Bermuda

    • Anonymous says:

      Right. The Bermuda model. Where locals and expats absolutely hate each other. Where the tourism economy is non existent. Where the financial services industry got up and left. Where the deficit is x times Cayman. And where druggies have taken over the parks.

      No thanks.

      • Anon says:

        Expats snd locals hate each other here. Just read the posts.

        • Anonymous says:

          How many Cayman Governors and aide-de-camps have been assassinated in Cayman prior to 1973, in 1973, and since that year ?


          Cayman has not reached that level of local-expatriate hate, thankfully and hopefully never.

          Peace out🙏🏼

    • Lim says:

      Don’t need to imagine; went through Ivan!

    • Anonymous says:

      5;55. Bermuda ? You must be joking. Bermuda should learn from Cayman including a hard lesson on fiscal management.

  16. Anonymous says:

    And it wasn’t even a hurricane.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thought it had been classed as Cat 1? That’s what I’m going to tell people when I bore them to tears in the bar like people did with me and Ivan!

    • Anonymous says:

      Just because the NHC didn’t call it a hurricane until after it passed doesn’t mean it wasn’t a hurricane when it’s center was closest to us. And regardless, we were still feeling heavy affects from it after it was officially designated a hurricane.

    • Anonymous says:

      Now you understand more about weather, that’s good

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