Cayman faces long haul to resolve flooding problems

| 05/11/2009

(CNS): According to the new director of planning, the Cayman Islands needs an extensive storm water management plan to deal with the island’s perpetual flooding problems. Haroon Pandohie says it is a priority issue but he does not yet know when it can be resolved. Planning is now working closely with the National Roads Authority on a storm water management plan, but the director told News 27 that it will take years before it is in effect. It will also cost millions of dollars to tackle, Pandohie told the television news station, and observed that dealing with flooding problems, even in the short term, is very complicated and there are no quick fixes.

For years now, residents have complained of increasing flooding problems in particular locations where the impact of development has exacerbated existing natural problems, such as in the Cumber Avenue area of Bodden Town. Just last month, residents in the swamp area of George Town were trapped in their homes or forced to wade through filthy water to get out.

Last December the director of the National Roads Authority (NRA) said that experts had been engaged to look at the problem to come up with a viable solution. Brian Tomlinson has explained that the problem in Bodden Town is a combination of local geography and more recent development in the area that has created a basin from which water cannot escape and the area has become a serious technical challenge.

“At the junction of Cumber Avenue on Bodden Town Road the elevation is around 17 feet above sea level, likewise at the junction on Gun Square Road it reaches 22 feet. However, if you travel down either of those roads into the area prone to flooding you arrive at land that is a mere three feet above sea level. With the new development in that area, the water that once found its own way to the wetlands is now trapped,” Tomlinson explained.

During the general election the flooding issue became a talking point at a number of political rallies and some people have suggested the area is not suitable for residential occupation and the only solution may be to compensate the home owners and relocate the residents.

See news 27 video

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  1. Green Hornet says:

    You think it’s bad now…wait until climate change and sea level rise really begin to bite in the Caribbean. And how much of Cayman is at or below current sea level??? And we bicker about solving the insoluble?

  2. anonymous says:

    The new Minister for Health was the engineer that built the road that is contributing to a lot of the flooding in Cumber.  The money to fix the problem has to come from Government so he is in a good position to right his wrong.

    Come up with the money to fix the problem and stop filling in more of the swamp to line your pockets.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Planning department has allowed Smith Road Villas off Smith road to be built on a very low lying area in George Town without following necessary planning guidelines.  Roads in this development is built very low and all the residents down Hope Drive get flooded during heavy rains.  Other house lots in this development also get flooded very badly during heavy rains. The developer never built enough deep wells to handle storm water.  Sewage system is absolute disaster. It cannot handle all 100 houses in the scheme.  Developer kept adding more and more houses to the sewage system and the planning department kept a blind eye when this was happenning.  Planning department did a very very bad job in allowing these houses to be built in such low lying area without adequate protections for the residents.  Sir, please come and visit our houses during heavy rains you can see what I am saying here.  We are middle income expatiates and no government department listen to our problems.  Today, many residents living here suffer so much hardships during heavy rains.  I ask the new director not to ignore or compromise planning rules and codes XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

    It is good to see the new director understand the importance of the flooding problem in the country.  If we continue to allow developers to develop low lying area in George Town, believe me, in next 5-10 years, whole GT which is one of the largest international financial offshore center in the world will be under serious floods during heavy rains.  GT needs to have sufficient open low lying areas to settle storm water during rains.  Actions should be taken now to avoid this.

    • Anonymous says:

      yes, planning dept, frank hall homes, water authority should be sued for the sewage issues at smith rd…..

  4. Anonymous says:

    Twyla, do what I had to do in another flooding area, build a wall in the door way, and put steps to get in the house, no more house flooding for me. Or put a wall around your doorways, solves the problem.  What has been done is done.  Then wear high boots to get in your yard."God helps those that help themselves".  Cursing about it won’t help the matter. I know exactly how you feel about the situation, I’ve been there.

    • Twyla Vargas says:

      00:59  I READ YOUR COMMENTS, but I am sorry to tell you, that you have not been here or there and does not know how I feel.  You want to hear a good story that will bring tears to your eyes, come see me and lets talk.   I bet you wont do that? .  So shut up about cursing wont help.  You darn hipocrites, all you can do is look a the worse side of a person but never give thought to the good that anyone has done.   All of us has had a bitter side to us, so before opening your mouth, check your own back yard to see how deep the water is before  you talk foolishness about something you dont know.  Hush !!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Dont forget the gully in Savannah.  It keeps getting overlooked and the only time they come here is when the sea water comes in.  Everyone promises to do something from PPM Govt to UDP Govt and nobody has done anything.  They even took the monies for our sea wall and used it on something else.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Interested to know why he is wrong that addressing flooding island wide will take a number of years and run into the millions?

    Folks lets do the math it costs between $2000- $3000 to drill one deep well on this island so it does not take a stretch of the imagination to figure out that when you throw in deep wells, ponds, buying the land to build these ponds or even buying current swamp land to send the water to cause lets face it even swamp land has an owner who wouldnt take other people’s  water for free, land grading, piping to move the water and the list goes on and on for this whole island that it quickly adds up into the millions………. In the 2008/09 along government spent $265,295 to address flood on "one site" with an additional $100,000 allocated in the 09/10 budget to  again address "one site" so again it quickly adds up…..

    or hey maybe we could require everyone to spend atleast  $30k to $40k to build a cistern to store that water that comes off their roofs for all existing and new buildings, which ironically we all use to do in days gone by,  so it does not flood out their neighbours and the roads…. still adds up…. or lets just make everyone buy bigger lots so they have the vacant land to let the rain water collect and dry in the sun, or just buy out all the homes in low lying areas, relocate the residents and just let nature take its course and let the water keep going into these areas…still costs alot…

    no matter how we slice it or dont like it it still costs a lot of money to take rain water from where we dont want it to go to where we dont mind it going so the real question is again how much are we prepared to pay NOW to solve the current problems and to prevent the new ones…

    or maybe we just sit around and instead of being realistic about dealing with the problem of where the water is running we just keep running down our fellow countryman.



  7. Twyla Vargas says:

    WILL TAKE MILLIONS ??? and Many years !!!,  Sorry Mr Pandohie, we the residents of Cumber dont want to hear that.   During all these years and million dollar thinking, please tell me what will your department be doing except getting  paid a salary every month just to drive by every time it rains and see if anyone have drowned in the area?

    Millions of dollars have been spent in Cayman in one day on darn stupidness,  Judge, Indian Chief, police and prisoner, but not a chance in Hell can someone with a brain think about spending a dime on the people of Cayman.. If this was happening in certain areas in Cayman there would be no question that something would be done.   Of course something can be done, and it is not going to cost millions of dollars; that is B%^&^  S%$#(:) talking, foot dragging and so on.  You have to start somewhere,  But instead we come up with another Brain Storm, Foot Dragging Stunt.

    I have lived here all of my life, so has my Grand mother who was 106 years old when she died.  Never has water came into anyone house.   Bad planning approvals is what  caused this to happen.  Allowing private investors to fill up the setlands, build house, 50 foor road high ways and not considering anything about the poor people.

    Well Mr Pandohie, I have no where to go.  But I guess because we are a stone throw away from the Beach, some plan may be in the pot to buy us out, put down hig rise condos, which would over look the Beach once they are two or three stories high.  We never know, why una dont want to fix this place.   But I will tell ya one thing,  I do not know what side you on, but you better have plenty of money in the next Three and a half years, because some one will see how Bodden Town feels.  That is a promise.

    WE NEVER FAIL UNTIL WE STOP TRYING.  That is what I see happening right now.  Blessed

  8. Anonymous says:

    typical civil service response on an issue they have been meant to be working on for months:

    we don’t know what the solution is

    we don’t know how much it will cost

    we don’t know when it will be done


    reminds me of the old ppm press briefings…..

  9. Anonymous says:

    Planning Dept. for so many years have allowed people to build homes in areas which are not suitable for residential purposes. The swamps should not be filled in to please people who have money. GOD put them there for a purpose.. please wake up.. if more swamps are filled in, the whole of Cayman will  be flooded!!   Common sense should let you know that filling in all the wetlands  will cause flooding!!  Get a grip on this situation right now and don’t allow people to build homes where they shouldn’t be built.  How could they have allowed this to happen for so long!!!

    By the way shouldn’t some of the NRA  staff  be retired now  I think there are some over  60 yrs!!  Most of us in Govt. have to leave at that age…please check this.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are loads of civil servants 60 or over who should be retired. The good ones can be rehired but it is a great opportunity to once and for all get rid of those who have done nothing but complain about working for Government for the last 40 years. Trouble is. they tell their their bosses they can’t afford to retire (after 40 years of non planning for retirement, overseas lottery gambling, spending everything they earn, numbers playing etc) and of course their bosses say ok rehire them.

      You see, folks, they’re Caymanians. We all, including Captain Underpants, will have to understand that. Unless, the review of public services takes it on board.

      No, you’re right, it won’t.

  10. A Caymanian says:

    The problem with Cumber Avenue is that the natural drainage of the Land has been blocked with the by pass road !!! We do not need to hire any consultants to tell us this !! I .am not a university Graduate and I and I’am sure many more people can see this!!!!


    When the road was drawn was this taken into consideration? If not  you all need to get rid of whoever is drawing because this person did not view the area and studied the natural flow of water. How much more can we as Caymanians put up with the piles of money being spent with these people, as the Older folks call  Coblers not having the common sense to draw and implement a plan that will no  cause these kinds of problems to the people that work hard and build their homes, to have to lose everything because some idiot or idiots did not study the natural drainage of the land before they put a road thru. 

    • Anonymous says:

      A house is being built ajacent to my land. I never received plans etc to review. I’m told that’s typical of Planning Dept. The house is being built high and I wonder if water will be poured onto my land. We shall see. If it is, I have enough money that i will fill my land next to their property so ratid effin high that they will swim in water. Sad, isn’t it? Shouldn’t Planning have these thing sorted out? If not, WTF are they there for?

      Haroon is a good guy. But how old is he? how many years experience does he have? We are killing ourselves in Cayman with good civil servants being put in positions they wouldn’ ever get in for another 20 years in other countries JUST because they are Caymanians. And of course they struggle. (Yeah, I know, it’s all the furriners’ fault, Ezzard)

      CNS: Do you want me to name them? No, I thought not.But do a FOI on all senior civil servant positions above and including Grade F and ask for years of service and age of postholder. The public wouldn’t believe it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ok Mark and Joke Joke.. u thought it was so easy to fix.. now find a solution quick oclock…It is so easy to critisize when you are not in power…let us find a resolution now..

  12. I bought above sea level says:

    Sounds like Haroon is a bit out of his depth and may have opened up somewhat of a Pandohies Box here.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hope this is meant to be a joke….I did find the play of words funny.

      Haroon is a very bright young man. He is absolutely correct in his statement. Storm water management on a flat, swampy island is no easy task and in the Cumber are it may involve pumping as they do in New Orleans to solve.

      I wish him all the best in his new role as Director of Planning. That is a welcomed change from the “same old, same old”

      • Twyla Vargas says:

        14:16 HAROON maybe a very bright young man, and I take off my cap to that, but I will say one thing, that is I hope he do what is right; because most times Caymanians are put in these positions to " fire not to hire".  What I really mean is although he may get the Top Cat position to run the jungle, He will have to still be taking orders from  "Whats it not"

        Cumber Avernue has a serious situation !! and who feels it knows it.  How would you feel if it rains for five days and you have 3 feet of water begin to come into your home.  Think about it.  This is no fault of ours.  Every body knows what caused the problem, but no one wants to spend money on fixing it.   If it was just waiding through water in the roads it would not be so bad, but stepping down off your bed in the night and going to your knee in water is hell to put up with.   This is no joke, so go and ask a few people what they saw.   Ask  David from the Rotary Club,  Carolina and Cecile what they saw happening here.  We were to our knees in water inside of the house and there was no hurricane hitting the Island, Last week I had four inches of water inside of the house, and if  it had rained anymore, I would have had four feet, and you will have the nerve to say it will take years and millions of dollars.  For christ sake una shut una mouth talking foolishness, !!!     Spend some money and fix the darn place and stop dragging una foot and clapping una hand.  There is a good reason why Cayman is on the down turn.  It is because those in authority is so darn selfish and greedy for their own self, gain. family and friends, they do not care one S$%#^(:) about their neighbours.   But you know what I will leave with you all.  "Think how easy it is for you to get your fat asses through a camel’s eye"  Pretty hard is’nt it? 

        • I bought above sea level says:

          Twyla, appointing young, inexperienced, probably well meaning people to such positions is not about setting them up for failure or firing. It is about setting them up to be used as puppets and abused to carry out the every whim and fancy of those who put them in these positions in the first place. Unfortunately the less fortunate amongst us will never be a priority as they carry little weight come election time

          • Twyla Vargas says:

            14:38, good thoughts, But I will stay on top of this Cumber situation.   I am not goingto accept that we the less fortunate will never be priority come next election.  I always believe thatwe fail when we stop trying.

            Take for instance the good road way we have in Cumber.  Credit has to be given to Ozzie and his crew for getting this road.  But did we put up a fight to get it.  Dear me, I had fallouts, hate remarks, and the whole nine hundred yards, but I fought and I got it.  That is called not giving up.

            Now we have a Musical crew who choose to hide and ignore the people of Cumber, well I have news for them.  I am not giving up the fight to have something done.  In fact as I speak right now the place is beginning to flood.  A few weeks ago persons from NRA came around sat and looked, while some took a hose and draw water from drain wells.  Our representatives did not come near.  They sent a few croonies to ask darn foolishness like "Is it flooding again, while at the same time they are parked in two feet of water" .  At least Ozzie Bodden and his crew would come and make promises.  You know what it makes me wonder "Who is telling all of these lies?"  "Who is holding unto the purse strings?"  Why is Bodden Town representatives hiding from the people.  You do not have to be a minister,  to question the situation in the LA.  Go ahead, lop una frocktail and do nothing except collect a fat salary that that you do not deserve.  All things will come to an end.  Many did not think so.  It is only a matter of time.  Blessed.

    • Pandora says:

      I think you are out of your depth when it comes to using classical references.

  13. one of the few who care where its going says:

    Perhaps we can just lift the island and insert more land putting us above the water level. That way we can add more buildings and people and not worry about flooding. And all run can go back to the sea because who really cares about that.

    Seems like the only option for a island that nature intended to be a floating swamp land below sea level. .

    • Anonymous says:

      I am recommending that committees be formed for each District and each Island comprised of decent honest and intelligent folksto deal with these problems. The problem why they are not fixed is because yhey become too Political. There are alot of left outs from the Ivan and the Paloma Hurricanes, and ehen you check them out they are the most needed ones, what a shame. There are too much power in the wrong hands.