Brac seamen rebuild shelter

| 19/07/2010

(CNS): An unofficial emergency shelter on Cayman Brac’s Bluff has been rebuilt following its destruction during Hurricane Paloma in 2008. The Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Veteran’s & Seaman’s Society has, for the second time, raised funds to build the shelter, which was officially re-opened on Saturday 17 July, 20 months after the storm. With no reserve funds and no insurance, the V&SS members set about raising the half a million dollars to rebuild, and the society’s president, Roy Walton, said they never doubted at any time that they would do so.

Donations included CI$100,000 from HSBC (Cayman) and $60,000 from the government’s Paloma Relief Fund, as well as $10,000 each from the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands, the private Brac Relief Fund, and funds donated by staff at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Phoenix Construction did the construction work for cost plus 5%, and among the individual donations, Linton Tibbetts and thefamily of Captain Charles Kirkconnell made significant contributions.

The semi-circular, coated steal roof of the first Veteran’s & Seaman’s Centre, though designed to withstand 110mph winds, crumpled as the storm passed about 6:00am on Saturday, 8 November 2008, when it is believed a tornado tore into the shelter, leaving the main hall severely compromised. Approximately 94 people were in the shelter at the time, though no one was seriously injured and everyone was able to cram into the kitchen and bathroom area until the storm passed. (Right: The V&S Center after hurricane Paloma)

Rebuilt almost from the foundation, the reconstructed building sits on the same footprint (96 feet by 45 feet) as the original, built with steel reinforced concrete block and poured concrete. Replacing the steel roof was considered too expensive, so the new roof is a more traditional hip design, with an exterior 6:12 pitch and interior 3:12 pitch. The new doors are all steel and there is now a wheelchair ramp to the south side entrance.

After the opening, Walton told CNS he was “as happy as a lark” and extremely proud of the members. “We’re a ship that has good crew on board,” he said.

The president (right) and Vice President Arlin Tatum (left) said that right after Paloma the S&VS members were discouraged but were determined to rebuild, no matter how long it took. Now that the centre is open they hope that it will be used for functions, for which there is a small charge that goes towards upkeep and fundraising.

The Veterans & Seaman’s Centre was officially opened in May 2003 by the Earl of Wessex.
It is built on land provided by government on a 99-year peppercorn lease on Ashton Reid Drive, close to the Aston Rutty Civic Centre, the largest shelter on Cayman Brac.

At the reopening, the ribbon was cut by the society president and vice president, MLA Moses Kirkconnell and District Commissioner Ernie Scott. Acting Premier Julianna O’Connor Connolly attended, but because flights were cancelled due to rain, many of the dignitaries and supporters of the V&SS were unable to be there for the occasion. (Right: the interior of the building after Paloma)

The society has approximately 115 members on all three islands and in the US. Members either have three years experience at sea or in the military, or are the children of veterans or seamen.

See full list of awards presented at the reopening ceremony.

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  1. Kent says:

    Well done and congrats!

    I want to say that the efforts of Tim Mrochuck (Phoenix project manager) and Troy Rankin (Phoenix foreman) were a perfect example of what professionals that are good at what they do can make happen.  I was fortunate enough to see this project during the construction stages and both Tim and Troy made sure that even the works that can no longer be seen were of a quality that you don’t find even in plain site.

    Great Job!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well, I always heard, if you want it done, give the job to a "Bracker".  Well done my friends, well done!

  3. alexandria fatta says:

    Congratulations Papi (Arlin Tatum), on a job well done.  I love you.  I now understand why you had to leave me so soon.





  4. Anonymous says:

    Congrats. Brackers never cease to amaze me.  Someone should write a history of the families from the Brac and what they have achieved.

    • Marl Rhodes says:

      Will this weighty tome deal with their contribution to the well being of mankind as a whole or that a couple of families set up a few local businesses?

    • Anonymous says:

      Congrats to the Seamans building. Our sincere gratitude to our Capt Moses Kirkconnell, our beloved  Capt Charles and Linton,not to mention Mr Walton, Mr Tatum, Mr Andrew Eden and all those who made this possible.