Prince surveys Brac damage

| 06/02/2009

(CNS): On his fourth visit to the Cayman Islands, HRH Prince Edward spent two hours Thursday morning, 5 February, on a lighting tour meeting Cayman Brac residents and surveying the damage left by Hurricane Paloma, which struck the island 8 November 2008. Paloma, a category 4 hurricane that grew in strength rapidly just before it hit the island, catching many off guard, caused an estimated CI$50 million worth of damages in the Sister Islands. (Left: the prince meets 32 Storm survivors Ray and Rosie Scott)

Most of the damage was on the Brac, where around 85% of all buildings were damaged. Additionally, 42% of businesses, all hotels and condominiums, and 32% of government buildings were also damaged. Of the 1,207 buildings on the island, 56 (5.36%) were destroyed, 182 (15.93%) sustained major damage, 231 (19.75%) had medium damage, 543 (43.39%) had minor damage, and just 195 (15.57%) sustained no damage at all, according to figures from the Ministry of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing and Hazard Management Cayman Islands. (Right: at Spot Bay)

Arriving at at the Gerrard Smith International Airport, where he was met by Acting Governor George McCarthy, MLAs Julianna O’Connor-Connolly and Moses Kirkconnell, District Commissioner Ernie Scott, and Acting Head of the Governor’s Office Alan Drury, Prince Edward drove through the north side of the island.

Passing West End, where 21% of buildings were affected by Paloma and seven were destroyed, the prince’s party travelled to Spot Bay, where 152 buildings (11%) were affected and 11 buildings destroyed. Seeing some of the damage by car and walking part of the way for a better look at the district, the prince was greeted next to the Spot Bay Park by a crowd of residents as well as children from Spot Bay School. Among those gathered were a number of Brackers – Rosie and Ray Scott (above), Faith Tatum and Lurley Scott (left with MLA O’Connor-Connolly) – who had survived not just Paloma but the 32 Storm, which devastated the island 76 years earlier. He also met Dr Mark Laskin and staff from the Cayman Islands National Recovery Fund, and Kris Beighton from KPMG, which has donated to the fund.

The party then moved onto the Brac Police Station at the Creek, which sustained major damage in the hurricane and has been unusable since. (Police are currently headquartered at the Brac campus of the University College of the Cayman Islands.) Then onto the trailer park at Watering Place, where eight trailer homes are currently housing 20 people. Some 60 residents are also believed to be living in other forms of temporary housing. Approximately 100 residents were displaced by the storm altogether but around 90% are now back in their homes, according to the DAPAH Ministry.

No residents were at the trailer park when the prince arrived, but 73-year-old Meridith Dilbert, whose home was blown off its foundation, later told CNS that the trailer home she had been allotted was “not too bad”. She said, "I lost everything in the storm and I hope something will come up and I get another place,” and added that she continued to sleep at a relative’s house because she didn’t like being alone at night. (Right: Crowds gather at Spot Bay)

Stopping briefly at the Seamen’s and Veterans’ Centre on the Bluff, where 93 people who sheltered there during Paloma were given a fright when part of the roof buckled in the storm, Prince Edward passed the Aston Rutty Civic Centre, where eight elderly residents of the Kirkconnell Community Care Centre remain in the medical wing of the island’s main hurricane shelter. During Hurricane Paloma, the medical wing of Centre housed 23 people, including hospital patients. Since Hurricane Paloma, three KCCC residents have passed away.

Prince Edward then made his last stop at the Brac Reef Beach Resort, which at the time of the storm was the Brac’s only hotel. (Leftto right: Deputy DC mark Tibbetts, MLAs Julianna O’Connor-Connolly and Moses Kirkconnell, Prince Edward and DC Ernie Scott)

There he met Kyle Hooker, the grandson of the hotel’s founder Linton Tibbetts, who gave him an update on the hotel’s recovery progress. Despite the fact that an entire section of the hotel – which included the lobby and office area, the exercise room and boutique – Hotel Manager Trudy Viers told CNS she expects the resort to re-open in June. A new hotel, The Alexander, is also nearing completion.

The Prince returned to the airport at noon for a last farewell to a group of schoolchildren gathered to wave him off as he headed for Grand Cayman.

  Brac Students wave goodbye to the prince at the airport

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