Cayman Islands Ready for ETA
Senior public and private sector representatives met Friday morning, 06 November 2020, to ensure the Islands’ preparedness ahead of the expected arrival of near tropical storm force winds on Grand Cayman on Saturday.
Uniformed and essential services representatives outlined their readiness to the Chair of the National Hazard Management Council, Deputy Governor, Hon. Franz Manderson and members of the Council and NEOC.
In addition to strong winds, Director General of the National Weather Service, John Tibbetts said the Cayman Islands are likely to experience heavy rains, with potential flooding likely as the ground is already oversaturated due to rains caused by the recent passage of Eta to the south. Rough seas will also accompany the weather system.
Mr Tibbetts noted that while Eta is currently a Tropical Depression, its maximum wind speed is nearing Tropical Storm strength. He noted that any further rapid intensification of the storm during its passage through the Cayman Islands area would be unlikely due to existing, strong high-level wind shear.
Preparedness measures already in place include:
The National Weather Service issuing flood, wind and marine warnings to the media and the public at regular intervals with updated details of potential impacts. These are available from www.facebook.com/cinws at 4pm and 7pm.
Having four shelters on standby around Grand Cayman, and the Aston Rutty Centre on Cayman Brac. Shelter management teams are ready to open if needed and the shelters are stocked with supplies and personal protective equipment.
Ongoing work by the National Roads Authority to maintain drains as a means of managing flooding.
Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) have also worked with Lands and Survey and Department of Environment to share information with colleagues about historical flood zones to help assess what areas may be at risk
Members of the Cayman Islands Regiment have been embedded around the Islands to assist persons in need.
The RCIPS Community Officer team are likewise on standby
RCIPS officers will be conducting patrol and service checks at business and community locations across the Island.
Government is in contact with persons in isolation facilities and those at home to make sure that any needs can be anticipated and that operations are ready for the severe weather.
The Port Authority some days ago instructed ships to seek safe harbour in North Sound. The National Weather Service has also stated that all boats should be in safe harbour no later than tonight.
It has also closed its vessel berthing facilities until further notice and will close its cargo distribution centre tomorrow.
Hazard Management Cayman Islands are in contact with regional disaster management organisation CDEMA as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should support be needed.
Damage assessment teams are standing by to roll out across the Islands once the all clear is given.
Urging members of the public to complete their preparedness plans as quickly as possible Deputy Governor Franz Manderson emphasised the importance of avoiding non-essential movement around the Islands, until authorities confirm it is safe to travel
“We are closely monitoring the situation and standing by to protect lives and property should there be a need. At the same time we count on members of the public to exercise common sense when it comes to avoidable risks such as travelling near affected coastlines or on flooded roads. This will avoid placing unnecessary strain on our essential workers,” remarked the Deputy Governor.
Mr Manderson also reminded persons that they can stay informed about the impacts of Eta and how these may impact them by closely monitoring official local channels.
Director of HMCI Danielle Coleman commented that the National Emergency Operations Centre and Mental Health Hotlines will be activated tomorrow. These numbers are as follows:
· NEOC- 949-6555 (from 7am until stood down)
· Mental Health- 18005346463 (9am-5pm)
HMCI will operate from its offices 945-4624 from 7am until stood down.
While tropical storm force winds are not expected to reach Cayman Brac and Little Cayman those islands are very close to the path of the storm and may be impacted by any shift in its direction, officials said. As such they should maintain a state of readiness until the all clear is given.