Utilities returning on Sisters

| 13/11/2008

(CNS): Crews from the Cayman Brac Power and Light (CBP&L) and CUC now have electricity lines restored from the power plant to the Faith Hospital, ready to be hooked up by electricians. Power has been restored to Catboat Plaza, Brac Informatics Centre and Kirkconnell’s Market, as well as 20 to 25 homes. Meanwhile, LIME had the cell site at Spot Bay working Tuesday evening and now has mobile coverage for all of the Brac and much of Little Cayman.

in addition, power is back on at the Kirkconnell Community Care Centre and the Tibbetts Annex and staff are transferring clients back from the Aston Rutty Civic Centre, CBP&L General Manager Jonathan Tibbetts said Thursday. The UCCI campus, where the police are temporarily headquartered, Credit Union, District Administration and the LIME office, all on Stake Bay Road, would be hooked up later today, he said. Crews had also restored power to the homes of some of the elderly at Stake Bay.

The Aston Rutty Civic Centre, where some people are still sheltering, should have power Thursday evening, and they were hoping to get the power line restored along the main road down to the West end by the end of Friday. CUC had sent over a generator for the Market Place in Tibbetts Square in West End which was hooked up Wednesday night.

CBP&L line crews had worked 20 hour days Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Tibbetts said. CUC Line Manager Gary Whittaker, an electrical engineer, a planning superviser and a 6 linemen from CUC, having repaired some damage to power lines on Grand Cayman, arrived on the Brac Monday to help with restoration on this island. Their main goal was to establish the main transmitter lines, while CBP&L were concentrating on distributing power from that transmission.

Tibbetts said that CUC had so far sent 2 flat racks of poles for the Brac and another for Little Cayman. After that more would be shipped. However, he said that the poles were arriving as fast as the crews were putting them up.

On Little Cayman, where most of the poles had been blown down and the substation destroyed, the two CBP&L staff, Waide Moore and Philburne Ayton, had restored power from the LC power plant to the Southern Cross Club by putting some of the old poles back up, Tibbetts said. They should get power back to the Little Cayman Beach Resort within a day or so, he said.

By early next week they were hoping to get electricity restored to 60% of Cayman Brac, Tibbetts said, with particular thanks to CUC CEO Richard Hew, VP Transmission and Distribution andrew Small, Manager Materials Management Ron Parchment, and VP Production David Watler. CUC will be rotating crew every two weeks.

As the power companies are putting poles up and restoring power, LIME crews are following behind them to restore communications. Yvonne Walton, Brac Manager for LIME, and the 8 Brac staff members are working with 10 staff from Grand Cayman, including Project Lead for the Sister Islands restoration Darrel Rankine, who arrived Sunday and will remain for the duration of the restoration process.

Rankine said that the lack of vegetation was helping the coverage get to a wider area and with the Spot Bay cell site now being powered by a generator and again operational, mobile coverage was restored throughout the Brac, though in some areas the signal might not be strong. The West End cell site survived throughout the storm, he said.

On Little Cayman, the Crows Nest cell site was operational though the airport site was down. As on the Brac, the lack vegetation was helping the signal get through to users, Rankine said. Some people still had landline service, including the Southern Cross Club.

On both islands LIME staff are concentrating on getting mobilecoverage back to 100% and doing detailed assessment for the fixed network. Landline service on the Brac has been restored to essential services such as the hospital, police, fire service, District Administration, CNB, CBP&L office and Kirkconnell’s Supermarket, Walton said.

Apart from Rankine who was sleeping at the Stake Bay office. the Grand Cayman staff was staying at the LIME bunker on the Bluff, where Brac staff and their families – a total of 11 people – had weathered the storm and remained until their homes were livable.

Walton said that the company was taking very good care of all their staff and extended families, as well as customers. All prepaid mobile customers on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman had been given a $10 top-up and the same amount would be given to post-paid customers, which would show up on their bill. Internet hotspots and power outlets were available at the West End and Creek exchanges and at the Stake Bay office, where tables and shade were also available for people to use.

As well as restoring communications, LIME staff were lending humanitarian assistance, helping to get tarpaulin on homes.

"As we progress, LIME will also address other humanitarian needs," said Walton. "A container is coming today with supplies for staff, and going forward we will be reaching out to the community."

Walton said she would also like to thanks hospital staff for providing free tetanus shots for all LIME staff members on Wednesday.


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