Letter from the Cayman Islands Government
Office in the United Kingdom, 8 October 2004
I am writing to update you, as Chairman of the
Foreign Affairs Select Committee, on the impact of Hurricane Ivan
on the Cayman Islands, and particularly Grand Cayman, last month.
I also wanted to keep you informed about the recovery operation
which has just begun.
Hurricane Ivan reached Category Five over Cayman.
It was one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit land. The
eye of the storm passed within eight to 15 miles of Grand Cayman.
It struck on Sunday 12 September, bringing with it sustained winds
of 160 miles per hour, gusts of up to 217 mph, and a storm surge
of sea water of eight to 10 feet, which covered most of the Island.
A quarter of Grand Cayman remained submerged by flood waters two
days later. Both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman suffered damage,
although not to the same extent as Grand Cayman.
Damage on Grand Cayman has been extensive. I
include with this letter, for your reference, a detailed briefing
about the damage and the recovery effort, and some photographsof
the devastation. 95% of our housing stock has sustained damage,
with around 25% destroyed or damaged beyond repair. We currently
have 6,000 homes that are uninhabitable-these are homes that house
teachers, nurses, manual and other workers. Thankfully, loss of
life in Cayman has been limited, relative to the impact of the
storm. We have one reported fatality and one person missing, presumed
dead. Our prayers go out to their families and friends.
I recognise that the Cayman Islands, relative
to our neighbours in the Caribbean, has a good standard of living.
Our financial services industry made a rapid recovery and is now
operating as normal, but we have a very long and hard task ahead
of us to rebuild our homes and public infrastructure. Some of
those who have been most badly affected by the devastation are
among the most vulnerable in our society.
I have had discussions with the FCO and DfID
this week, and have requested supplies, logistical support and
expertise. I hope that as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee
you will not object if I and my colleagues in London continue
to keep you informed of what we are doing to tackle the very serious
situation we face in Cayman.
I have been heartened by the spirit of the Caymanian
people, which remains strong. We are all pulling together to recover,
but we need the assistance of our friends around the world. I
hope you will be able to support our efforts.
Honourable McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP
Leader of Government Business and
Minister of Tourism, Environment, Development and
8 October 2004
"THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE IVAN IN
THE CAYMAN ISLANDS"
By Hon McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP
Leader of Government Business, Cayman Islands
The situation in the Cayman Islands is steadily
improving and the spirit of the Cayman Islands people is shining
through. The community is pulling together and working as one
to rebuild. We are recovering but the scale of the damage to public
infrastructures as well as the impact on our housing stock has
been tremendous. Six thousand homes have been damaged beyond repair
The Cayman Islands Government is functioning
again, but because of the scale of the devastation that has occurred
it is clear that it will need continued outside assistance with
the recovery and reconstruction process. Many of our people are
homeless, and many who could not afford insurance will need our
help. The Government is, consequently, asking for assistance from
our friends around the world in any form they feel appropriate.
The Cayman Islands Tourism Association has carried
out an audit of the damage to tourist accommodation and attractions
on Grand Cayman. Initial assessments indicate that considerable
damage has been sustained and the capacity of the tourist industry
on Grand Cayman will depend to a great degree on the progress
of the recovery effort.
It is hoped that some tourists will be welcomed
to Grand Cayman by mid-November. It is important to remember and
inform people that tourist facilities are open for business on
both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Despite rumours of widespread looting, incidents
during and immediately after the hurricane were sporadic and limited.
There was a minor disturbance at Northward Prison during the storm
but the prison was quickly secured.
The Cayman Islands Government is especially
grateful for the support they have received from neighbouring
Caribbean Overseas Territories and Bermuda; 25 police officers
from Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks & Caicos
Islands were sent to Grand Cayman to relieve and assist the Royal
Cayman Islands Police (RCIP) officers.
The financial industry offered continuity of
service throughout the hurricane. In most cases, well prepared
business continuity plans were implemented and, as a consequence
of the multi-jurisdictional nature of many Cayman Islands firms,
financial service provision continued at a high level. The Cayman
Islands Monetary Authority resumed operations on Monday 20 September.
CIMA and the clearing banks have confirmed publicly that their
records and data were unaffected and that the banking system has
The relief effort
In the aftermath of the hurricane, the Governor
assumed responsibility for all affairs in the recovery process
under the Emergency Powers Order. The Cayman Islands Government,
Members of the Legislative Assembly, the private sector, the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development
(DfID) and international aid agencies worked together to repair
key services and facilitate the Cayman Islands' recovery. The
immediate relief effort was coordinated through the National Hurricane
Committee (NHC) which was composed of senior Cayman Island Government
figures and representatives of the private sector. The Emergency
Powers were lifted on 27 September, the NHC stood down and powers
were transferred back to the relevant Cayman Island Government
Support has been received from a number of sources.
A DfID Humanitarian Assessment Team was sent to Grand Cayman.
Relief was also provided by the Red Cross. DfID is also undertaking
a meteorological study of Hurricane Ivan and its impact, and a
DfID scientist has visited Grand Cayman to undertake a provisional
study. In the first week after the hurricane struck, the crews
of HMS Richmond and RFA Wave Rider assisted in the recovery and
clean-up process. HMS Richmond's helicopter helped to transport
personnel across Grand Cayman and also assisted in assessing the
scale of the damage.
There was one confirmed fatality on Grand Cayman.
A 52-year old Jamaican national suffered chest injuries when the
hurricane took off the roof of a shelter in Bodden Town. Despite
the best efforts of medical personnel, he died two days later
on Tuesday 14 September. A 75-year old fisherman from West Bay,
who was reported to have been seen securing his boat in heavy
winds, is missing and is presumed dead.
Cayman does not have a major outbreak of gastroenteritis
although 17 children and three adults have so far been admitted
to the hospital for treatment of diarrhoea and vomiting. Cholera,
hepatitis A and typhoid are not endemic to the Cayman Islands
and there have been no cases during this period. No mosquito borne
diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever or West Nile
virus have been reported. To prevent tetanus infections, tetanus
boosters are being offered to everyone. About 13,000 doses have
been given so far.
Food supplies: In the aftermath of
the hurricane, food was distributed around Grand Cayman, and supermarkets
Water: Soon after the hurricane struck,
mains water supplies resumed on a limited basis, with water trucks
stationed around Grand Cayman to ensure that clean water was available
to local communities free of charge. The Water Authority has restored
running water to much of Grand Cayman, although in some areas
supplies are restricted to certain times.
Electricity: Mains electricity supply
has been restored to most of the capital, Georgetown, but much
of the remainder of Grand Cayman is still without mains electricity.
Many homes are being powered by generators. It could take up to
three months to restore a full supply to all residents.
Housing: Contractors, architects
and quantity surveyors are co-ordinating their actions with the
Government's Planning Department, and construction personnel are
being flown in to help with reconstruction and to supplement local
resources. Providing accommodation for construction workers is
a major problem.
Schools: No Government schools have
reopened, and there is need for significant assistance with the
rebuilding and repair of schools and in sourcing educational materials.
The clean-up programme
The clean-up programme is progressing slowly.
Ninety-five percent of all homes in Grand Cayman have been affected
by the hurricane in some way. There is much dead vegetation, rubble,
ruined vehicles and other debris to be cleared away.
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