Archive for September 2nd, 2008

Utility companies work together on Sister Islands

| 02/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Power is being restored with remarkable speed across the Sister Islands, despite the fact that Gustav had downed a number of poles on both islands, thanks in part to the cooperation between P&L and Cable & Wireless (C&W) and help from CUC. Though there were some problems with landlines, C&W bmobile customers on the Sister Islands had mobile service throughout the event. Meanwhile, LOGB Kurt Tibbetts (left) was part of an entourage that toured the Sister Islands to assess damage.

By Tuesday night, just three days after the Hurricane Gustav blew across the Sister Islands, Cayman Brac Power and Light (P&L) had restored power to 100% of customers on Cayman Brac whose homes are available to receive power. On Little Cayman 85% of the islands power was restored by day’s end Tuesday and restoration should be complete within the next 2 days, according to P&L General Manager Jonathan Tibbetts.

Tibbetts said CUC continued to assist the P&L team in restoring power on Little Cayman. “We are truly thankful for the manpower they have provided. We continue to ask for customer’s patience as we complete the restoration process.”

C&W assisted the Sister Islands power company by providing them with the use of one of the company’s bucket trucks in Little Cayman to help to accelerate the return of power to all residents.

“We would especially like to thank Cable and Wireless who have extended the time of Power and Light borrowing their bucket truck to assist in the restoration of power. This means that their customers may be slightly delayed in getting their landlines restored but will receive power at a much quicker pace,” said Tibbetts, and added, “If we had to wait to get a truck over from Cayman Brac or Grand Cayman it would further prolong the restoration of power to residents in Little Cayman.”

C&W reports that crews traveled over to both Sister Islands on Sunday morning to assist the Cayman Brac team with assessing the damage following Hurricane Gustav. The company’s telecommunication systems kept the people of the Cayman Islands connected through out the storm. However, due to downed utility poles, which support some of the telecommunications transmission and distribution cables, and the loss of power in the Sister Islands some customers have experienced intermittent landline service, said C&W in a release.

Although there were a couple of smaller cell sites that were eventually impacted by lengthy power outages, larger cell sites equipped with additional standby power maintained service and coverage so that C&W bmobile customers on all three islands had mobile service throughout the event.

“Our crews got to work right away with assessing the damage as well as confirming what resources would be required to reconnect customers as soon as possible. While extensive, the damage was not as detrimental as originally thought. The majority of our landline voice and broadband customers in Cayman Brac did not lose service during the storm, and our teams have already made significant strides in reconnecting most of those who did. With respect to mobile service, we are now back to 100% availability on all our sites,” said Albert Anderson Senior Vice President of Networks for Cable & Wireless Caribbean.

Albert continued, “Restoring all customers in Little Cayman will be a bit more challenging however we have already reconnected most customers and we are committed to working with Cayman Brac Power and Light Company to expedite this process.”

C&W Chief Executive Tim Adam said, “Cable & Wireless recognizes the vital importance of electrical power supply to our customers, visitors and of course to our own services, and we have a long and strong working relationship with the power companies in all three islands, so we are happy to be in a position to help Cayman Brac Power & Light and the people of Little Cayman in such a practical and beneficial way.”

Teams from the Grand Cayman office will remain on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman until all service is fully restored.

The Water Authority shut down its service, purely as a precautionary measure, the night of the hurricane from around 5:00 pm but had normal service by 11:00 Saturday morning.

On Saturday 30 August, District Commissioner Ernie Scott and Deputy DC Mark Tibbetts, led H.E the Governor Stuart Jack, Sister Islands MLA Julianna O’Connor Connolly, as well as Ministers Arden McLean, Charles Clifford, and Ministry of District Administration Chief Officer Kearney Gomez on assessment tours of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Little Cayman’s District Officer Larry Foster joined the entourage during the visit to that island, as did the Royal Navy Iron Duke’s Commander Mark Newland. During the tour, government officials underscored the order to provide aid, such as water and tarpaulins, to residents.

They arrived in the Brac on Saturday afternoon on the first available flight. To visit Little Cayman, they were shuttled across – four at a time – on a Lynx helicopter stationed aboard the Royal Navy’s Iron Duke. The vessel, along with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Wave Ruler, had been in the area before Gustav struck, in order to provide immediate aid to the Sister Islands if necessary.

“Both islands – Little Cayman in particular – has suffered some damage, but we are thankful that there was no serious damage or fatalities,” said the Governor. “I am sure one reason we did not suffer more was that we were well prepared.”

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts recognised the residents’ hard work to push recovery along. “Once the storm passed and it was safe to do so, officials, work crews and individuals immediately began working to clear up debris and make repairs,” he said.

By late Sunday afternoon Iron Duke departed for other duties in the region, as the Sister Islands had been spared a significant hit. The Wave Ruler had departed some 12 hours earlier, following assessments.

DC Scott noted that District Administration officials, as well as island residents, began to prepare for Gustav days before the storm struck on Friday afternoon. The hurricane tested the Sister Islands’ revised hazard plan, which covers communications, strategies and contingencies.
“By all accounts, the plan provided a stable foundation for us to get through this storm as well as we did,” Scott said, adding that the plan was developed in conjunction with DAPAH.



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Time changes at UCCI Brac campus

| 02/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Because of the impact of Hurricane Gustav there have been some changes to courses and course registration at the Brac Campus of UCCI, and student orientation for Brac students has been rescheduled for Thursday, 4 September. All students who have applied for the Associate and Bachelor Degrees and Certificate Programmes have up until Friday, 12 September to register for classes.

Students can still register on-line at the UCC web site where available courses are also detailed. The majority of classes for the Fall Semester will now start the week beginning Monday, 8 September. All students who have applied for these programmes must attend the University College orientation to be held at the Brac Campus on Thursday, 4 September from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Parents and guardians are also welcome to attend as well.

At this orientation, students will meet UCCI staff and teachers to discuss the coming year at the Brac Campus. Any outstanding items on your application can be turned in at this time. Refreshments will be served. The Brac Campus is at 20 Kirkconnell Street, opposite District Administration and is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

Classes for the Civil Service College (CSC) will also now start Monday, 8 September. Students can register on-line on the UCCI web site by following the CSC link.

All Continuing Education classes will begin on Monday, 15 September, with sign-up at the campus on Monday and Tuesday, 8 and 9 September from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Students will be able to sign up for Continuing Education Classes at that time.

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US reefs under threat

| 02/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(IAR): A new report has identified a number of threats to one of the largest near-shore live-bottom reefs in the US. The new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research said the overall condition of the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary could only be classed as "fair". Threats to the reef includie non-indigenous marine species, over fishing, waterborne chemicals from human coastal activities and increased recreational use of the site. Go to article.

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Law firm takes advantage of distress

| 02/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As Walkers Head office in Cayman re-opened for business on Monday, the offshore law firm was reporting a rise in distressed funds work in the first half of 2008. The firm, which has dedicated distressed funds groups in its Cayman, British Virgin Islands (BVI), and Jersey offices, has seen an increase in demand for its services in this area.


"We are seeing a lot of new instructions from distressed funds in our BVI office," said Richard May, a partner on the Distressed Funds team in BVI, which was launched in March 2008. "It is important that hedge funds ensure that they get their redemption provisions right from the beginning and structure their funds appropriately to protect themselves against potential liquidity issues that might crop up in the future. By paying attention to the details at the start, they can save themselves and their investors a lot of headaches later."

Walkers says that the Distressed Funds group was developed to help investment funds best serve the interests of their investors. The team has broad-ranging experience across funds, litigation, and insolvency work to provide a full range of services for the entire lifecycle of a fund. The firm has found that by integrating these practices early on, the funds are more aware of their options — especially when jurisdictions such as the U.S., Cayman, BVI, and Jersey can have differences in how funds can be liquidated and the rights of investors.

"When funds go into distress, it is important that the actions taken are in the best interests of the funds themselves and the investors, and that other parties are not permitted to obstruct what is most favourable for the funds," said David Steenson, a Jersey litigation partner on the Distressed Funds team. "The goal is to work with the funds directly, where possible, to help them assess their options and put the best strategy in place to benefit both the funds and the investors."

Walkers said it can counsel funds on how best to deal with suspensions and illiquidity issues, contractual rights, and pre-emptive actions or threats from investors. Because of the multi-practice approach, the team is skilled at handling contentious and non-contentious situations.

"Our goal is to help our clients navigate through difficult situations," said Sandie Corbett, a Cayman insolvency partner in the Distressed Funds group. "That includes both ensuring that their fund is built on a solid foundation and that they fully understand how their fund operates from the outset so that they are best placed to cope with problems in the event that they end up in litigation. The better prepared they are both as a fund structure and from an education standpoint, the better chance they have of winning in court, if the situation advances to that stage."


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Atlantic weather stirs up trouble

| 02/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As Gustav dissipated following its landfall yesterday and Hanna reverted to Tropical Storm status after reaching hurricane strength Ike (left) was rolling across the Atlantic with another depression (TD Ten) churning behind it in what is proving to be an exceptionally busy season, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) was issuing advisories on four separate weather systems in the Atlantic.

At the season’s halfway point, and with what is generally the busiest half still to go, if TD 10 reaches storm status (Josephine) as predicted, the Atlantic will be counting ten storms and four hurricanes in three months. The NHC was also saying this morning, (2 September) that Tropical Storm Ike is expected to strengthen within the next two days into a hurricane.

The NHC has been urging US residents in south-east to monitor the movement of Hanna, which was upgraded from a tropical storm yesterday to a hurricane and then down graded again today but its uncertainty is giving cause for concern.  "The uncertainty is such that it could hit anywhere from Miami to the outer banks of North Carolina," said Jessica Schauer Clark, a meteorologist at the national hurricane centre. "People really need to keep an eye on it." Hanna stalled for hours over the south-eastern Bahamas yesterday, lashing the islands with winds and rain.

The storms are proving a headache for cruise ship routes with cruise lines altering itineraries around Hanna and the list of ships affected is growing as Hanna continues its journey. Moreover as Ike rolls into the region the cruise industry said it expected that routes may also be affected by that storm as well.

The turmoil in the Atlantic is also giving the energy and commodity markets cause for concern as traders turned their attention to Ike which could reach the Bahamas, Hispaniola or Cuba by Sunday. In general energy traders watch for storms that could enter the Gulf and threaten U.S. oil and gas production facilities and commodities traders will watch storms that could hit agriculture crops like citrus in Florida and other states along the Gulf Coast to Texas.


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Tourism stats are true

| 02/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Recent suggestions in the media and from members of the public that the Department of Tourism is massaging air arrival figures have been denied by the DoT, which says it will be offering an official response in the press very shortly. Tourism officials told CNS that the arrival figures come directly from the Immigration Department already categorised into visitor numbers based on the official documents filled in by all arriving passengers.

The statistics are made up of air arrivals who are staying in the Cayman Islands in local accommodation for at least one night. "Suggestions that almost one third of those arrivals are in-transit passengers wjo do not leve the airport is completely incorrect,” said one official, who added that the definition of passengers is decided by immigration regulations and direct transit passengers are simply not counted in the visitor numbers.

"There are always people who make mistakes and around 0.02% of the visitors may have stayed over night or they might not which is a reasonable margin of error,” added the official. A recent story in the media made the claim that a possible 30% of passengers arriving at Owen Roberts International never left the airport, which the DOT emphatically denied. “Its ridiculous,” said the spokesperson.

The department said the recent air arrivals are as accurate and true a picture of who is visiting Cayman and where they are from as it is possible to get. The arrival figures show on average a continued increase of around 9% in the numbers of air passengers visiting the island and the DoT said the rise in both visitors from Europe, which has increased by almost 16%, and Canada, which is up by more than 16%, reflect the campaign work that the department has been engaged in over the past few months.

“Given the economic down turn in the United States, rising fuel prices and an active hurricane season along with various other issues, the Cayman Islands is doing exceptionally well to keep the air arrival figures growing, and that is what we intend to keep doing,” said the official, adding that the forthcoming tourism conference in September, which takes place on the 18 and 19 September, provides all the people of Cayman, not just tourism stakeholders, with the opportunity to find out exactly what the department has been doing.

“We have made some incredible strides this year and we hope that the wider community will come to the Tourism Conference and find out for themselves exactly what has been achieved so far and exactly what mitigating strategies the department has been and will continue to engage in to fight this current economic situation,” the tourism official added, noting that many stakeholders in the tourism sector are confirming that business is reflecting the steady rise in air passenger arrivals.

According to the most recent statistics, more than 30,000 people visited Cayman in July compared to just short of 27,000 in July 2007.

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