Sisters info: Businesses open

| 08/11/2008

(CNS) Updated Monday 3:00pm With generators arriving on the Brac and relief supplies pouring in, two distribution centres are now operating on Cayman Brac. Businesses are starting to reopen in the wake of Paloma’s devastating strike and Cayman Airways have added an extra jet service to the schedule to help get in more essential supplies. CBPL is continuing the work to restore power, Cable & Wireless is also trying to reconnect customers and Radio Cayman is now broadcasting.

Relief and Aid: There are currently two distribution points established for relief items that have been sent to the Sister Islands — Tibbetts Warehouse and the Aston Rutty Centre — both on Cayman Brac. These two centres are the distribution points for shipments sponsored by the National Hazard Management Council, the Red Cross and the private business sector on Grand Cayman, working through the Chamber. Centres will begin operation at 3.30pm today (Monday). The Aston Rutty Centre’s distribution operation is being managed by volunteers from the Adventist Disaster Relief Agency (ADRA). Items being distributed include water, drinks, non-perishable food, batteries, flashlights, and hygiene items. Other private, family-to-family initiatives are underway. Sister Islands’ residents should get details via cell phone from relatives on Grand Cayman about what they have sent, and which boat it was sent on.

A joint effort between Baraud International and King Flowers is sending a 40ft container to the Brac on Wednesday. The container will be on site at Cricket Square from early Tuesday morning. People and businesses can deliver their  packages to Baraud International throughout the day. Please label packages clearly Items of urgency  for the Sister Islands include barbecue grills/charcoal – generators – repair related items – air mattresses/pumps – chainsaws –first aid kits – gloves/masks – flash lights/lanterns/batteries/matches –  bleach/disinfectant – towels/bed linens – cleaning supplies – pampers/baby food/baby clothes-water/food/can juices – clothes/sneakers/shoes.

Planning Department are now on Cayman Brac carrying out life safety and physical damage assessments on buildings, housing families and businesses.Chief Building Control Officer Emerson Piercy said that the teams are working to discover if buildings are safe structurally. They are also checking on the condition of electrical and plumbing systems. The teams are also working with Cayman Brac Power & Light Co.Ltd. to ensure that electricity is restored as quickly as possible to homes that are safe to reconnect.

On Sunday, as part of the joint Cayman Islands Government/Chamber of Commerce recovery effort, two boats carrying relief supplies are scheduled to arrive in the Sister Islands today and tomorrow.  The Cayman Aggressor has already departed Grand Cayman for the Sister Islands, carrying tarps, repair related items and a Public Works crew who will assist with repairs. The Carib Eagle, scheduled to leave shortly, will deliverthe equivalent of four 20ft containers worth of supplies. Two more of Adrian Brigg’s vessels departed for the Brac, one loaded with 8000lbs of ice, the other with general supplies. Pick up locations will be announced on arrival.

A command centre has been established on Cayman Brac led by District Administration. The NEOC on Grand Cayman as well as HMCI sub-committees will continue to support all recovery operations, including assisting persons who need to temporarily relocate to Grand Cayman. Initial relief efforts for the Sister Islands are well underway: Relief personnel from the RCIPS, HSA and the Fire Service have already arrived there. 

Additional relief teams from Public Works, CUC and a telecommunication team from LIME, as well as damage assessment personnel will depart for Cayman Brac today.  Harbour House Marine has stopped accepting relief packages but government and the Chamber said they were  grateful for the public’s generosity and concern regarding this preliminary initiative. As soon as additional collection points and urgently needed items are identified, media advisories will be issued with the details. JCS said government is currently coordinating the relief effort, to ensure that urgently needed goods receive priority at the airport. A distribution centre is being established. “Because we went through Ivan, we are all greatly concerned about the welfare of the Sister Islands. But we also know from Ivan that the response needs to be coordinated, so that the urgent needs are taken care of first. We must guard against the limited transport capacity being used for things that are not critically needed at this time,” said Deputy Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks.

The two Thompson Shipping barges that service the Sister Islands did not sustain any damage as they took refuge in Cienfuegos, Cuba, and the first one already on its way back to the Cayman Islands while the other will leave on Monday, 10 November. Both vessels will be ready to ship supplies to the Sister Islands next week, as soon as weather permits.

CAL:  Cayman Airways said this morning it is concentrating on ensuring that relief supplies and
essential personnel get priority to the Brac. As a result, there will be additional jet service to the Brac today in addition to the regular twin otter service. These flights will concentrate on getting relief supplies up to the Brac and bringing persons from the Brac. Residents in Grand Cayman are reminded that they may deliver supplies and cargo for the Brac and Little Cayman to the Cayman Airways Cargo offices which will remain open until 5:30 today. Cargo to the Brac is being
transported without charge. The following schedule adjustments and additional services are in effect for today – Monday 10 November: Cayman Brac: Additional flights:
KX2405 Departing Grand Cayman at 1240pm arriving Cayman Brac 1:10pm.
KX2406 departing Cayman Brac at 1:40pm arriving Grand Cayman at 2:10pm.
Havana, Cuba: RETIME: KX832 departing Grand Cayman at 3pm arriving Havana 3:59pm   KX833 departing Havana 450pm arriving Grand Cayman 5:47pm
Miami: RETIME:  KX106 departing Grand Cayman 7pm arriving Miami 8:24pm
KX107 departing Miami 9:25pm arriving Grand Cayman 10:50pm
Also effective immediately, Cayman Airways will not be transporting visitors to the Sister Islands until further notice. Visitors who have previous reservations for vacation travel to the Sister Islands are asked to contact the Cayman Airways reservations office by calling 949-2311.  For Grand Cayman residents wishing to send emergency supplies to the Sister Islands, these will be shipped free of costs until further notice. Cargo for the Sister Islands can be dropped off at the Cargo office at Cayman Airways Headquarters, which will be open today (Sunday, November 9, 2008) until 5:30pm, and tomorrow from 9:30am to 4pm.

Power and Fuel: Cayman Brac Power and Light CBPL says it is working round the clock to restore power to every resident on the island. "We will begin to energize small portions of the island, along the main road primarily, today around noon," said Jonathan Tibbetts. "We will be working to restore power from the power plant West to Stake Bay and then from the plant East to Watering place and small portions of the bluff and South Side." He said damage assessment was still underway on some of the bluff and on the South Side. "We have mobilized our CUC partnership team and they will be arriving within a day or two to assist with recovery process. Little Cayman sustained major damage as well and will be working on recovery issues as almost every pole in the village area is broken. We will try to energize certain portions by Monday." CBPL is currently working with CUC teams to assess required materials and resources.  These should be shipped by barge tomorrow (Monday, 10 November). Tibbetts also commended his staff who are working flat out to get the power back on. While phone lines are down Tibbetts said that staff can be reached on 916-1656.

According to Dalkeith Ebanks the Texaco manager on the Brac there is plenty of fuel on the island and both gas stations, West End Texaco and Tib Mart in Watering Place, have reopened for business, and are fully functional, with adequate stocks of gasoline.

Water:  Approximately 14 days’ water supply remains in the reservoir, and the Water Authority, through the ongoing marine effort, is shipping generators. The water distribution system must be checked, a process that requires electricity and one which must be completed before phased restoration of water can begin. An assessment of the north section of the pipeline has been completed and no leaks have been found. The south section has yet to be inspected due to flooding. Until this section can be inspected, staff needs will be dealt with, followed by the assignment of the relevant resources from Grand Cayman.CNS has learned the WA generaor failed today hence the need to wait on replacement generators. The Water Authority said however, that it would like to assure all its valuable customers in Cayman Brac, that all necessary action is being taken to ensure that piped water supply is available in the very near future.Brac customers are urged to continue to listen to the radio for updates from the Water Authority.

Roads: A chainsaw crew was dispatched by the Agriculture Department to assist the Brac PWD effort to clear roads. Main roads on the north side are now passable as are those on the Bluff. Residential side streets are being worked on and roads to all cell tower sites have also been cleared.  Some sections of roads along the south coast are clear, while others are still affected by floodwaters.  Drainage efforts are underway to relieve the situation and it is hoped that these roads can be cleared by Monday.

Communicaitons: Cable & Wireless have dispatched a team to begin restoring communication lines on the Sister Islands. Tony Ritch, LIME (As C&W is now known) Country Manager for the Cayman Islands said the team will lend their support to those already there and who were on the ground throughout the storm.  “We had already put together a container of humanitarian supplies that we had arranged to ship but we are now transferring those supplies from the container  to put onto commercial flights so that we can get help there quicker,” said Ritch.“Our experience with hurricane Ivan has taught us great lessons that will allow us to more effectively help our LIME family and friends. LIME plays a vital role in providing communications and supporting our community, we will therefore continue providing humanitarian assistance as further details of what is required on the ground are provided. 

The first shipment will leave this afternoon on Cayman Airways and will include food, personal necessities, generators, air mattresses, tarpaulins, electrical cords, flashlights and batteries, halogen lamps, and baby supplies among other items.

Ritch said mobile phone service is available on both islands and while the firm is aiming for the restorations of coverage in the shortest possible time fixed line services will be established following the re-planting of utility poles. Priority will be placed on emergency services, utilities and other Government services. Mobile phones can be charged at any one of our LIME exchanges, and hot spots are being set up at each of these locations so customers will be able to access the Internet. The public is being reminded not to touch or cut downed telephone cables but to report these and other faults to LIME 24 hour Customer Care Centre at 611.

Radio Cayman reception was restored on the Sister Islands earlier this evening and residents of the Sister Islands are now able to receive all recovery bulletins and messages on Radio Cayman’s 93.9FM frequency.

Schools and Colleges: There has been no official announcements about school for Brac students yet who are not due back to school until Tuesday. School Assessments will be made tomorrow and initial reports appear favourable and every effort will be made to get children in school as quickly as posisble. The University College of the Cayman Islands says the Cayman Brac Campus will be closed until further notice but Cayman Brac students are welcome to attend classes on the Grand Cayman campus if they are able.

Shops and services: The ATM on Cayman Brac is now operational between 9 am – 6 pm daily until further notice and th bank says the Customer Service Center will open on Thursday and Friday of this week from 9 am to 11 am. From next week the hours for both the Customer Service Center and ATM may be increased, subject to CNB’s review of the situation.

Biggie’s Restaurant and Kirkconnell’s Supermarket are now open for business as well as othe following: Tibbets Enterprises Reef, 8am – 5pm; Tibmart Gas Station, Watering Place, 8am – 6pm; V’s Island Supply, 8am – 6pm, and Tropical Delight, 7am -10pm. Catboat Plaza is also open. 

Health: Medical facilities remain operational from shelter locations. Some 12 medical professionals have been dispatched to Cayman Brac to provide relief for resident staff. Dr. Reid, at Tibbetts Square, will be open for patients  from Monday from 9am until 12 noon and thereafter the opening times will be posted on The Brac Clinic door.

Insurance: Representatives of the insurance compnaies are expected to arrive in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman on Tuesday and JCS is advising residents who carry insurance on their homes, businesses, vehicles and other belongings to consider their claims. Residents need to know that they do not have to sign any agreement quickly. Also they are entitled to seek a second opinion if they don’t agree with the assessed value.

General news: Brackers are now returning to the shelters becasue their homes have been destroyed. With two of the shelters compromised the key focus is to get all three up and running to offer refuge to the large numbers of people who have lost their homes. Local MLA Juliannan O’Conner-Connolly is currently helping co-ordinate efforts in the shelters and is cooking up food. Billy’s Supermaket has been completely destroyed but in a true community effort, Billy is giving away what stock he has.

The seven persons who were onboard a boat that beached in Little Cayman during Paloma, are safe and well. These persons are not Caymanian, but their nationality is being determined at this time by government officials. More information will be provided when available.

Cayman Brac and Little Cayman were given the official All Clear yesterday eveing but government has imposed a curfew every evening until further notice on Cayman Brac but not on Little Cayman. Reports are now coming in of severe and extensive damage to property on Cayman Brac island wide and significant damage on Little Cayman.

During the storm the Sea Veteran’s hall and the West End Shelters were breached and but the Aston Rutty centre was not compromised. One man was injured when he slipped on a wet floor at the Seaman and Veteran’s Hall and temporarily lost consciousness, his recovery was assisted by a retired nurse and reports suggest he is OK.

According to other reports received by CNS all roads on both islands are blocked though crews are trying to clear them where possible. On Little Cayman all light poles are down and the roads are flooded and blocked with debris, although one eye witness account said the runway at Little Cayman Airport looked clear. Reports are also coming in that the flooding is so extensive tarpons are swimming in the flood waters.There is also significant damage to some properties on the smallest of Cayman’s islands though Cable and Wireless and Digicel mobile services are all working.

UDP MLA for the Sister Islands Julianna O’Connor-Connolly told Radio Cayman yesterday that moral on the Brac was mixed as people were in shock, but she said Brackers were resilient and everyone was gratefull that no lives had been lost and added that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.


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