Preparations for Gustav – Update

| 28/08/2008

(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-openon 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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