Utility companies work together on Sister Islands

| 02/09/2008

(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 Cayman85% 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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