Post Paloma blues

| 14/01/2009

I think that many people in Grand Cayman have forgotten what it was like in the weeks that followed Hurricane Ivan justfour years ago.

I can’t say I blame them, but from my perspective, having lived through Hurricane Paloma on the Brac a bare nine weeks ago, perhaps it is time to draw to the attention of the movers and shakers (and everyone else that doesn’t seem to understand) in Grand Cayman exactly where we are at on the Brac.

But first a word of thanks. We couldn’t have gotten through the early post-storm days without the overwhelming support we received from everybody on Grand Cayman – both public and corporate, individuals and non-profit organizations. And we are extremely grateful for that support.

At this time we are recovering, but it is a slow process. Perhaps not as slowas after Ivan, but slow nonetheless. Many people are still without power, many, many more without land-lines. This despite heroic efforts by our utility companies to “hook us back up.” There are still many people who are virtually homeless, entire families bunking into one bedroom shacks because their homes have been destroyed, others making do in the patched up rooms of their semi-destroyed homes. Possessions — family heirlooms, old love letters, photographs, TV sets and bedspreads — gone. Blue tarps on hundreds of roofs; generators running through the night consuming gas at CI$3.30 a gallon; hotels closed. The muted roar of dehuimidifiers trying to cope with the damp and the creeping mould. Sound familiar?

And the barge couldn’t make it for several weeks because the sea was too rough for it to dock. That meant we have had to wait for our building supplies before we could start our rebuilding process. We don’t want for food – but it was rough for at least a month after Paloma with only Kirkconnell’s operating and flying in supplies. Our other grocery stores – Billy’s and the Marketplace – trashed. They’re open now – but the prices. Oh my!

That’s the physical side, the “plant” so to speak. What of the Brackers themselves? I see stress on just about every face I meet. The shock of the devastation that we have to face every day, to drive past on our way to and from our work and families. Lined faces, easy tears, the occasional cracked voice. Exhaustion. Remember post-Ivan, Grand Cayman, we are made of flesh and blood, not steel. Think of all the elderly Brackers who have died since Paloma. The storm that was too much for them.

So, to my point. I have observed that in just about every profession here we are being asked to perform as if nothing has happened. Today I heard of one institution to which e-mails were being sent, and the folks “over there” couldn’t understand why nothing was being done. The Brac branch didn’t have a land-line—still doesn’t. Helloooo over there. There are many, many more similar examples which space does not permit me to list. Here’s one. An organization was asked why it was still using a generator to provide power for essential lighting. This was costing money — it needed to be stopped. Hello: there was no power to these particular lights because they were miles away from the nearest live pole. The generator was put there in the first place for just this kind of emergency. To me this was a no-brainer, but apparently not to the person in Grand Cayman who ordered it.

I guess that’s what we’re seeing over here. No brainers. I know it was awful after Ivan. I know because many people have told me, especially those who sought haven on the Brac afterwards. I was here then. I heard first hand and in great detail what everyone went through, and I know people want to forget it. Fine. But just remember that we are going through that now. Nine weeks after a Cat 4 Hurricane and its consequential damage.

Just remember that and please do not ask us to do what is for us, the impossible. Think about what you are doing before you ask it. And, by the way, one way to help us through the stress and trauma we have been going through is to send counselors over to enable us do just that. This is what we need, not more work that we cannot do, or that will cause us further physical and psychological problems in the future.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    My workplace expected me to check e-mails without a phone or internet.  Even if I used LIME I still could not print e-mails without a printer.  They forgot the conditions that they worked in after Ivan including reduced hours.

    Everywhere that you go now the people of Cayman Brac look tired and down.  The emotional stress is starting to take its toil.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why are Grand Cayman people so selfish and arrogant! The people of Cayman Brac are hurting and need all the help that we can recieve! I must say that after Hurricane Paloma, there was alot of kindness in relief efforts from Grand Cayman, but that has all trinkle out to only a few that knew how to twist the arms of those who were dealing with the relief efforts.

    consider these things i’ve noticed on the Brac before and after Hurricane Paloma!

    1. Relief aid took too long to be issued to Brac residents(for a little 2×4 island like cayman brac)
    2. Generators were not shared out firstly to the areas or residents that needed them the most, meaning , that alot of elderly people (Spot Bay,Creek and Watering Place) were totally without Lights, Air Conditioning and essential sanitary needs)
    3. Communication between the Command Center and the residents were very difficult and challenging due to the amount of lightpoles that were fallen or broken off.
    4. THE PEOPLE FROM COMMAND CENTER  who were taking and processing the requests WERE OUTRIGHT UNPOLITE AND INCONSIDERATE towards the people of Cayman Brac in a difficult time. They responses to your request were insulting and rude.
    5. The Jamaicans residents were very noticeable at every distribution point- (The same PEOPLE)
    6. After Hurricane Ivan, Grand Cayman was a mess and government wasn’t prepared for the aftermath. So the Government reshuffle their planning procedures and policy and confirmed  that they were ready for the "NEXT BIG ONE" only, I say ONLY to the residents of GRAND CAYMAN. Now,  Hurricane Paloma hits Cayman Brac as a CAT. 4 and GOVERNMENT is lost, dumbfounded, gutted scared, not concern, worrying "how much will this cause ME! Compare the size and population of grand cayman to the sister islands and ask yourself(CI government)  "why didn’t we react faster, why was the aid slow in getting here to those who needed it the most. Face it YOU ALL FAILED> End of story, close the case!!!
    7. Hats off to Mr kerney gomez who bended foward and backwards to assist the residents of Cayman Brac. This man should be held up high and promoted to the highest hero inthe cayman islands. From me i say thank you!!


  3. Annoymous says:

    What is worse, there are people whose insurance companies are telling them that they are under insured.  I am flabbergasted that this EXCUSE is still being used by the insurance companies 4+ years are the passage of Hurricane IVan.  The banks and insurance companies are raping the people of this country.  We have to hear such ridiculous statements so they don’t have to pay out any money to you to fix back your house, but yet you must have it insured in order to get a mortage.  I say we need to form an conglomerate and file a massive law suit against these insurance companies and banks that are in bed together doing us all in. 

    I wonder, could this be an Human Rights Issue? 

    The Government offers no protection to the people, they just sit back and allow these two bodies to rape and defraud everyone until they have nothing left to give.

    So I wrote to my bank and told them that I am no longer going to pay insurance.  They wrote back and told me they were going to add it to my mortgage.  I have no control in what they are doing, the banks and the insurance companies are corrupt and defrauding you every chance they can get.

    When will the Goverment put protective measures in place so that this EXCUSE of under insured is no longer used or any other technical terminology they can drum up can be used when a catastrophic event occurs in the future.  Who is protecting us?  The Government is ignoring the real issues that are affecting people in this country, and that goes for all the Governments of the past as well.  What in the world is going on?  Fix what is broken the banking and insurance systems in this country. 

    Lastly,  on a final note and in a different direction, as a tax payer I refuse to pay anymore lawsuits or thefts, such as Henderson, Elliott, Kernohan, Syed and so on…. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.  Make those who caused these issues to come to this point be held accountable and pay, not us we didn’t cause these issues.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is all so true. But what makes it worse is our two representatives for Cayman Brac fighting each other, instead of working together. We know the election is near, and a lot of this is about votes, but give us a break. We need help, yes, but what we also need is a dependable duo to represent us from Spot Bay to West End and in between to get everything we need as quickly as possible. Make love & not war, that’s what my Gramma used to say. As for the Brackers still waiting on help, trust in God, He is faithful and just and will provide for anyone in need.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the writer. So many people on Grand Cayman are so quick to say that Cayman Brackers are just whinning…Look at the heading of one of the local newspapers a few days ago! Something to the effect that Cayman Brackersare still "MOANING" about hurricane relief! Obviously the person that chose that headline wasn’t here during Ivan and just simply has no compassion for his fellow man what so ever! I’m a Cayman Bracker! And very proud to be one! I live on Grand Cayman and I was here during hurricane Ivan! I know how we all suffered down here! I didn’t pick up and run over to Cayman Brac or Miami after the hurricane! I stayed here and dealt with every difficult day that came after the hurricane! I dealt with the frustration and the feeling of helplessness and dismay! And I completely understand how my fellow Cayman Brackers are feeling right now and my heart goes out to everyone who is still suffering because of hurricane Paloma. I wish there was more that I could do personally, but unfortunately there’s little I can do. My family has been fortunate enough to get help fairly quickly and for that we will be forever grateful to people like the Fosters who decided to donate their money to the people in need instead of holding their annual christmas party on Cayman Brac. The private citizens and private sector are the ones helping Cayman Brackers the most. When you hear us "MOAN" and complain about the government not helping, it’s because they ARE NOT HELPING! So these people on Grand Cayman need to remember where they were 4 years ago and stop saying that we are just "moaning" about aide, relief, help! We ARE NOT! We need the aide, relief, help..and it’s just not coming fast enough or from the Government…