Archive for August 28th, 2008

Police to check-in as service prepares for curfews

| 28/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) officials have asked all police personnel currently on leave to either contact their line-managers or the area commander within their districts in order to determine if, and when, they will be required for actual duty. A curfew is likely to be imposed shortly before storm impact, the RCIPS said today, which is designed to keep people safe and out of harms way as much as possible.

 

However, it is recognized that there are various entities required to work past curfew times to maintain services. Group exceptions will be given to certain employers whose staff can produce work photo identification or a letter from their employer justifying their reason for travel.

Group exemptions will apply to the following industries: All Emergency Service, Health Services, Utility companies (CUC & water), Communication companies, Food & Fuel distribution, Public Works.

Police said advance notice will be given before curfew and stress that it is vitally important that people do not leave their homes prior to the curfew being lifted. Those that do will be dealt with appropriately.

During a storm the RCIPS are responsible for shelter security, protecting critical infrastructure and ensuring rapid high-visibility policing deployment post hurricane. The RCIPS also engages in Search & Rescue duties and will assist with helping people out of difficult conditions. The RCIPS will also assist in searching for survivors in areas where people stayed in their homes or sheltered in buildings that were heavily damaged or destroyed. Following the passage of a storm or natural disaster the RCIPS will assist in protecting critical locales, including those for water, fuel, electricity, and communications suppliers. The RCIPS said it has many plans in place and are more prepared than ever to respond in an emergency situation.

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Airport in high gear

| 28/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  All airlines at Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman were prepared to operate by Thursday afternoon, 28 August, from tents set up on the airport grounds. The tents were the first point to deal with all passengers departing from Grand Cayman due to the Gustav weather system. The Department of Immigration announced that effective immediately no visitors will be allowed to enter the Cayman Islands until after the passing of Gustav. And the CAACI says evacuation charters need licences.

At this morning’s Evacuation Emergency Operations Committee activation meeting, Senior Manager Airport Operations for the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, Kerith McCoy, explained that the passenger-holding tents will help alleviate congestion inside the airport. Airlines will begin processing passengers at the tents and all ticketed passengers will be permitted to enter the airport terminal 90 minutes prior to departure to go through security clearance and Immigration. This procedure will be strictly enforced.

Refreshments for waiting passengers will be on sale on site from the Hungry Horse Restaurant, Domino’s Pizza and Subway. The Department of Tourism will also be on hand to provide water and light snacks. Signage at the airport will clearly indicate key messages from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority and portable public address systems will broadcast other important information to passengers. 

Airport parking is limited and vehicles will not be allowed to park along the sides of the road leading there. Airport security personnel and police officers will monitor parking and all traffic in and out of the airport. Traffic handling of special needs passengers will receive priority.
The Red Cross staff will be on hand to deal with health-related emergencies and will be assisted by the Health Services Authority if necessary.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands is reminding those in the business community who maybe considering either pre or post weather evacuation charters from the territory of the requirement for all air transport operations to be duly licensed. As such, it is a requirement of the Air Navigation (Overseas Territory) Order 2007, that all scheduled and non-scheduled air transport operations have the appropriate operating permit.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAACI) will process these as received in the shortest time possible once all required technical aviation documentation has been received with the application. Once the operating permit has been granted, applicants are encouraged to check with the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) in regards to airport operating times, landing fees, etc. The appropriate contact at the CIAA would be Mr. Walter Ebanks, Senior Manager of Air Traffic Services, walter.ebanks@caymanairports.com or 345-925-5174.

The check-list of required documents, associated fees, application form etc., can all be found on the CAACI website.

 

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Toddler dies in Tampa

| 28/08/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A 3-year-old girl from the Cayman Islands died Wednesday afternoon in Tampa after wandering away from her family and falling into a hotel swimming pool, Tampa police have said. The child and her family were on vacation from the Cayman Islands and staying at the Embassy Suites, 555 N. West Shore Blvd.

Family members, whose names were not released by police, were sitting near the pool when the child wandered away, police said. According to local media reports, the toddler was found unresponsive, and authorities do not know how long she was in the water.

A bystander gave the girl CPR until Tampa Fire Rescue paramedics arrived about 5 p.m. The girl was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Investigators have ruled the drowning an accident, and police said no charges would be filed.
 

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HMCI says Cayman ready for hurricane

| 28/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As Tropical Storm Gustav inches closer to the Cayman Islands, the subcommittees of Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) report that they have their plans in place to support the Islands during, and after, the storm.“Supplies have been checked, government buildings on all three islands have been shuttered, and the government hospitals, including Faith Hospital, are ready,” said HMCI Director Barbara Carby (left).

“Shelters are ready to receive persons, and government is working closely with the business and tourism sectors, to keep an open flow of two-way information.”

The airports and airlines, as well as tourism and immigration officials, are working together to assist passengers with their travel plans. And specifically on the Brac, the Sister Islands Emergency Committee is ready. Dr Carby also noted that the Red Cross and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service have increased their Brac staffing and volunteer levels.

“The level of cooperation, as well as collaboration, is quite good,” she acknowledged. “This is the time for everyone to work together, and that is happening.”

This level of cooperation is also happening in the communities, she observed. “We’re hearing reports of how persons have prepared themselves for Gustav, and also how they are assisting one another, including our elderly, single mothers with children, and persons who may have difficulties getting ready.

“Coming from Jamaica, I know how people prepare there,” Dr Carby said. “But I’m seeing a level of preparedness here that supports all I was told about Cayman before I arrived here. It also bears what I’ve seen for myself over the past two years. The people of Cayman know how to prepare, and they look after each other.”

HMCI and its partner subcommittees are continuing to closely monitor Gustav, and to refine preparations in response. Residents are urged to listen and heed local news reports, which have been developed specifically for Cayman.

“Advisories from the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, and information on the Internet, can be helpful. But they are not written from the particular Caymanian context and perspective,” Dr Carby explained. “So it’s important to distinguish these from local advisories issued by HMCI’s Joint Communications Service, or JCS.

“Among other information, these JCS advisories provide storm proximity to the Cayman Islands; the estimated time for weather conditions to begin to affect us; and tell the public when to expect the next local update.”

In addition to staying tuned to local media for JCS advisories, residents will find local weather information on www.gov.ky and www.caymanprepared.ky. On CaymanPrepared, persons can sign up for local alerts to be delivered right to their e-mail addresses. Click “resources,” then “e-mail alerts,” and follow the simple prompts.

Residents also can subscribe to Ktone, a local, free service that sends short text-message updates to cell phones. Visit www.ktone.ky, click “create an account,” and check the box under “All Government Information Services.”

Dr Carby reminded the public that being ready, and staying informed, will help Cayman to better weather any hazard.

“All storms have their own personalities,” Dr Carby said, “and Gustav is no different. Predictions are made on the best information available, but they are just that: predictions. They can change in a matter of hours.

“But by working together – government, the private sector, and residents – we can prepare and recover from this and any hazard in the best way possible.”

 

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Gustav changes track

| 28/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Tropical Storm Gustav turned southwest overnight and is strengthening. The shift in track will now bring it very close to Grand Cayman tomorrow (Friday 29 August). Gustav’s centre is expected to pass very close to Jamaica later today. The forecast is for Gustav to become a category 1 hurricane near Grand Cayman early Friday afternoon. Grand Cayman is also likely to start experiencing hurricane-strength winds early tomorrow evening (29 August).

Tropical storm-force winds are likely to start affecting Grand Cayman early tomorrow afternoon. Therefore, the Cayman Islands remain under a hurricane Watch. This means that hurricane conditions could begin to affect the Islands within 36 hours. The timing of local activities such as airport closures will be announced to residents.

At 4:00 am. local time, the centre of Tropical Storm Gustav was located near 17.8 N 75.6 W, or 392 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman, 305 miles southeast of the Sister Islands. Gustav is near stationary, with maximum sustained winds near 70mph with higher gusts.

The Sister Islands Emergency Committee continues to monitor Tropical Storm Gustav. Preparations are well in hand, and committee members are in close touch with Hazard Management Cayman Islands. Cayman Islands residents should monitor all local media outlets that carry local news in order to stay informed about Gustav.
 

Forecasters in Miami said that Gustav has been moving little during the past couple of hours but is expected to resume a motion toward the west-southwest and turn toward the west is expected later today as it passes very close to Jamaica. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 70 mph with higher gusts. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 50 miles.

Rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches are expected over southern Cuba, 6 to 12 inches over Jamaica and the Cayman Islands with isolated maximum amounts of up to 25 inches possible. These rains will likely produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. Coastal storm surge flooding of 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels can be expected in areas of onshore winds in the hurricane warning area.

Gustav is blamed for the death of 23 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and is projected to hit the US Gulf Coast Monday. One of its likely tracks is toward New Orleans, the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed 1,500 people and caused at least $80 billion in damage in several Gulf Coast states. The Louisiana governor has already declared a state of emergency and has called for 3,000 members of the National Guard to help prepare for the storm.

Meanwhile, in Cayman government is urging residents to complete preparations. To reduce any possibility of flying or floating debris, residents are advised to ensure that all movable construction materials are secured at jobsites and any loose tools and materials removed from yards. Residents should make sure they have food and medicine supplies, shuttering supplies, as well as important documents, including travel documents, in order. They should also look after marine interests and have a pet safety plan. Residents are also advised to check generators and make sure they have fuel, and ensure that family members and anyone who will be staying with them in the event of a storm are aware of the plan.

 

The Water Authority – Cayman is urging all customers to take note of the water specific tips on their website www.waterauthority.ky. Customers are also reminded that major hurricanes do pose a serious threat to our pipelines along the coast, and therefore it may become necessary for the Authority to temporarily disrupt service in order to protect the distribution system. Should this action become necessary, the Water Authority will give as much notice as possible once the decision has been made. The Public Works Department and National Roads Authority will be closed today as both departments will begin shuttering and preparing government facilities. Anyone in need of emergency assistance may call the helpdesk at 916-6694.

Cayman Islands residents should monitor all local media outlets that carry local news in order to stay informed about Gustav and the next JIS bulletin will be at 10:30am

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Opinions sought on police bill

| 28/08/2008 | 0 Comments

Although the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) has already been following much of the proposed legislation in the new Police Bill, government is now seeking public opinion. Among the many changes is the proposal for an independent complaints commission and the right ofthose arrested to be read their rights and to gain access,on request, to legal council. (Left David George)

Speaking about some of the details in the bill recently the Police Commissioner David George said that while the RCIPS was in practice already doing much of what is written in the bill once passed, it would ensure consistency and documentation of police activity.

“For the first time it enshrines the rights for people to seek and get legal advice when arrested,” said David George. “In practice however, it has already been the case that if anyone sought legal advice it would be given,” he said. “We do it pretty well already following what is in the new bill, but once it’s legislated it will make sure we do it consistently, but in short the processes we now follow are what is enshrined in the new law.”

He said there would be training implications for the police once the bill was enshrined but most officers were already following its content. He said issues such as integrity of evidence what is very important as this is an area where defence barristers could challenge the veracity of a case.

“We have been seeking to ensure systems match the challenges we face in court and continuity in evidence,” he added. “This bill is not going to formalise those systems and we will now have to ensure consistency and document everything that we do,” he said.  

The draft Police Bill (2008) was publishedon 18 August as supplement no. 4 to the Cayman Islands Gazette No. 17. Electronic copies  are linked on the Cayman Isalnds Legislative Assembly website, and Hard copies of the bill are available from the Legislative Assembly and

The deadline for public input is 5 pm. Tuesday, 30 September 2008. Comments can be sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers, Fourth Floor, and Government Administration Building; or by e-mail to virginia.gendron@gov.ky

 

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Preparations for Gustav – Update

| 28/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): All outpatient clinics at both the main hospital and district health centres will be closed Friday, 29 August until further notice. All elective surgeries and antenatal classes have also been cancelled. The pharmacy at the Cayman Islands Hospital has also closed and will re-open as soon as the all clear is given. The hospital’s Accident & Emergency Unit will remain open for emergency medical treatment only.

Across the islands various organisations issued information regarding open hours and other important issues. Home Gas said it would be open until noon Friday to continue replenishing the supply of 20 lb propane cylinders sold by the gas stations to the public. It will resume normal operations immediately after the storm has passed and will continue to fill the propane orders as they were received prior to the storm.

As it will reopen right after the storm to refill cylinders, Home Gas asked customers not to hoard them. "Potentially it can create a shortage of cylinders in circulation and also presents a hazard to people who bring the cylinders indoors during the storm which is a violation of the fire code," the firm said, noting that the cylinders go a long way and customers do not need to panic buy.

Meanwhile the Water Authority has returned service to customers that were disconnected during the past week for non-payment and said its offices will re-open on Monday, 1 September.

Cost-U-Less, Foster’s Food Fair IGA, Hurley’s, Kirk Supermarket and Pharmacy and Priced Right said all stores will be closed on Friday, 29 August. On Saturday, 30 August with an all clear announcement hours store hours will be issued. These hours are based on the current projected path of Tropical Storm Gustav and an all clear with no significant damage to the stores. Should the current projected path change, adjustments may be made to these stated hours to ensure the safety and well-being of customers and staff.

All Government Offices closed early Thursday 28 August for all non-essential staff as a result of the impending Hurricane. In a release, the Chief Secretary reminded all government agencies they should be in the process of implementing their Continuity of Operations plans to ensure their staff are prepared, facilities are secured and all other necessary precautions have been taken. Managers should use their discretion in allowing staff adequate time throughout the day to attend to their personal preparations.

And Cayman Island Clearing Banks are announcing to the public that all member Banks will be closed on Friday August 29 and will not re-open until the Hazard Management Cayman Islands has issued their ‘all clear’ bulletin. The Cayman Islands Clearing Banks that will be closed from tomorrow are: Butterfield Bank (Cayman), Cayman National Bank, First Caribbean International Bank (Cayman), Royal Bank of Canada, Fidelity Bank (Cayman) and Scotiabank & Trust (Cayman).

The University College of the Cayman Islands has advised all current and prospective
students that the Main Campus will be closed from 2:00 pm Thursday. At this time, the Fall 2008 Semester is still scheduled to begin on 1 September.

The UCCI Brac Students Orientation that was scheduled for Thursday, August 28, 2008 at the UCCI Brac Campus, has been postponed until further notice, but students can still register on-line at the UCCI web site where available courses are also detailed. Classes for the Fall Semester are scheduled to start on Monday, 1 September. However, please call the campus and check your local media for any changes to this schedule and for a new date and time for Orientation.

Caribbean Utilities Company says it has implemented its hurricane preparation plan in anticipation of the possible effect of Hurricane Gustav. CUC’s payment offices at the West Shore Centre and administration building on North Sound Road will be closed today, Thursday 27 August, and will remain closed until further notice. 

If the island is affected by the storm, CUC will continue to supply power as long as it is safe to do so. However, the power company says it may becomes necessary to shut down service for the duration of the storm and possibly until repairs are completed. CUC will restore power as soon as it safe to do so. CUC encourages customers to take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families, and to read their Hurricane Preparedness and Safe use of Portable Generator  handbooks.

The Water Authority – Cayman is urging all customers to take note of the water specific tips on their website. Customers are also reminded that major hurricanes do pose a serious threat to our pipelines along the coast, and therefore it may become necessary for the Authority to temporarily disrupt service in order to protect the distribution system. Should this action become necessary, the Water Authority will give as much notice as possible once the decision has been made.

 In order to facilitate hurricane preparations, the Planning Department is closed to the public and will reopen as soon as practical thereafter. The meeting of the Central Planning Authority scheduled for Wednesday, 27 August, has been rescheduled for Wednesday 3 September 2008, conditions permitting. Interested parties are asked to monitor the media for further announcements. The Department would also like to remind all residents and contractors to take a moment to ensure that all construction material and jobsites are secured to minimise flying and floating debris.

Various events including the Department of Education Services Welcome and Professional Development days between 28 August and 2 September as well as the first of the planned Immigration District Evenings in George Town, scheduled for Thursday, were postponed. Cayman Airways also cancelled flights to New York but added more flights to Miami and the Sister Islands to ensure those who were not prepared to wait around to meet Gustav could leave. 

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) said it was fully prepared for Gustav with officers fully briefed on their roles and responsibilities. It said they were equipped to deal with any emergency that a storm could bring and reminded the public that the RCIPS is responsible for enforcing the laws of the Cayman Islands and maintaining public safety during a storm or natural disaster. The duties include shelter security, protecting critical infrastructure and ensuring rapid high-visibility policing deployment post hurricane.

The RCIPS also engages in Search and Rescue duties and will assist with helping people out of difficult conditions. The RCIPS will also assist in searching for survivors in areas where people stayed in their homes or sheltered in buildings that were heavily damaged or destroyed. ollowing a storm or natural disaster the RCIPS will assist in protecting critical locales, including those for water, fuel, electricity, and communications suppliers. 

The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) advises Sister Islands residents that no garbage will be collected Friday, 29 August. The Sister Islands landfills and DEH’s Cayman Brac office will also be closed on Friday. Residents should listen to the local media to know when garbage collection will resume.

In Grand Cayman, residential and commercial waste collection will continue through Friday. The George Town landfill is expected to remain open until 12 noon Friday, but this closure time may change depending on Hurricane Gustav’s path. Additionally, the landfill will stop receiving used oil, lead acid batteries and other hazardous waste at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday.

 

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Take care of animals and farms

| 28/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Farmers and pet owners are reminded to ensure that all necessary precautions are in place to protect their farms, livestock and pets in the event of storm. “All farmers need to make their preparations now, following the guidelines as previously recommended by the Department of Agriculture,” Director of Agriculture (DoA) Adrian Estwick said.

“In particular I would like to emphasize to livestock owners to make arrangements to purchase their feed supplies as soon as possible, particularly during this hurricane watch phase. Although the Department of Agriculture will remain open as long as possible to serve their clients, it is difficult to predict when the department will be forced to close as the situation unfolds,” Estwick said in a DoA release.

To help prepare, the DA is again providing the following tips and preparation guidelines as a reminder to members of the farming community to assist with their preparation activities.

Livestock owners should be aware that adult livestock (cattle, goats & horses) have instincts that will enable them to survive a hurricane provided that their movement is not physically restrained.
Move animals to high ground and turn them loose in pastures that are not affected by flooding or storm surge. This is particularly important for goats; the islands’ goat population suffered the heaviest losses due to drowning during hurricane Ivan. Where possible, young livestock (two months old or less) should be securely penned with their mother, or otherwise turned loose in a safe and sheltered area that is not prone to flooding or storm surge.

Chickens and other domestic livestock should be placed in a safe cage, box or pen that is above possible flood level. Baby chicks, however, should be kept indoors in a warm dry place.
Adult pigs are best kept in their pens. Pig pens are never totally enclosed and therefore are of minimal resistance to high winds. However piglets that are under five weeks old should be protected from driving, cold rain. Where possible, piglets should be confined to a dry and secured area.

All livestock owners need to make plans now. Stock up on feed; make sure it is stored in a safe dry place for use after the hurricane. Ensure you have an adequate supply of drinking water. Ponds, watering holes and wells may become contaminated by salt water during a hurricane, and may remain so for a considerable period thereafter. When a storm is approaching, fill feed and watering troughs with water to prevent them from blowing away and provide water after the storm.

Have on hand halters, leads, tape, ropes, tarps and plastic, fly spray and animal medical supplies. Make sure all vaccinations and other routine medical treatments, such as de-worming, tick control etc are up-to-date. Contact fellow farmers and landowners to arrange a secure and safe place for your animals during a storm if you are in an area prone to flooding or storm surge. Inspect fence posts to ensure that they are properly anchored in the ground and not rotted. Loose fence posts can become dangerous projectiles during a hurricane.

Most animals and birds have an instinct for sensing the approach of a natural phenomenon such as a hurricane. If restrained, animals will exhibit a restless or nervous behaviour. Do not further agitate animals by rough handling, but rather handle in a calm, firm, and gentle manner. Do not tether animals; turn them outonto pastures that are not prone to flooding or storm surge and give them a chance to fend for themselves. If possible, chose pastures with woven wire for fencing; it is more flexible and better at withstanding debris than board fencing and safer than barbed wire which can be torn down by flying, becoming an additional danger to nearby animals.

On the crop side, fruit trees and shade trees should pruned. Cut off all low hanging, dead, and unproductive limbs and branches. The greater the resistance of a tree to high winds, the easier it is for that tree to be uprooted. The rainy season is the best time of the year for the pruning fruit trees.
Once a hurricane warning has been issued, farmers may also wish to consider chopping down banana and plantain plants (main stem and suckers) as near to ground level as possible. Plants that are cut down will shoot again and be back in production sooner than those uprooted by hurricane force winds.

Farmers should ensure that all fertilizers, pesticides and equipment are stored in safe, secure and dry location. With the approach of a storm, if possible remove and securely store irrigation lines, pumps and other equipment that might be damaged by the wind or flooding.

As with homes and businesses, it is always important to secure farm buildings during hurricane season. Secure loose boards and roofing sheets which can become dangerous missiles during a hurricane. Take down, tie down and secure everything you can and cut off dead limbs and/or trim trees back to safeguard property.

Pet owners are also reminded to make sure all preparations are in place for their pets including having necessary supplies of food and medicines on hand and ensuring arrangements are in place as to where their pets will be during the storm, as pets are not allowed in hurricane shelters. Owners planning to take their pets off the island need to first make their flight arrangements and confirm with the airline that their pet can travel with them. Once this has been done, then owners must to go their local veterinarian to get an export health certificate. This certificate should then be brought or faxed to the Department of Agriculture as early as possible to obtain the export/re-import permits for their pets. Please remember to travel with all necessary documentation to ensure your pet will be allowed to leave and return to the island in a timely manner.

For more information on securing your farm and/or livestock, or exporting your pet, please contact the Department of Agriculture at 947-3090.

 

 

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