Cayman prepared to weather Gustav

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, August 29, 2008 – As Tropical Storm Gustav inches closer to the Cayman Islands, disaster management officials there say they have all the necessary plans in place to support the islands during and after the storm.

“Supplies have been checked, government buildings on all three islands have been shuttered, and the government hospitals, including Faith Hospital, are ready,” said Director of the Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI), Dr Barbara Carby.

“Shelters are ready to receive persons, and government is working closely with the business and tourism sectors, to keep an open flow of two-way information.”

The airports and airlines, as well as tourism and Immigration officials, are working together to assist passengers with their travel plans and Dr Carby noted that the Red Cross and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service have increased their staffing and volunteer levels.

“The level of cooperation, as well as collaboration, is quite good,” she acknowledged. “This is the time for everyone to work together, and that is happening.”

“We’re hearing reports of how persons have prepared themselves for Gustav, and also how they are assisting one another, including our elderly, single mothers with children, and persons who may have difficulties getting ready…The people of Cayman know how to prepare, and they look after each other,” Dr Carby added.

HMCI and its partner subcommittees are continuing to closely monitor Gustav, and to refine preparations in response.

In the meantime, residents are being urged to listen and heed local news reports, which have been developed specifically for Cayman.

“Advisories from the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, and information on the Internet, can be helpful, but they are not written from the particular Caymanian context and perspective,” Dr Carby explained. “So it’s important to distinguish these from local advisories issued by HMCI’s Joint Communications Service (JCS).”

“Among other information, these JCS advisories provide storm proximity to the Cayman Islands, the estimated time for weather conditions to begin to affect us, and tell the public when to expect the next local update,” she added.

Dr Carby reminded Caymanians that being ready, and staying informed, will help them to better weather any hazard.

“All storms have their own personalities and Gustav is no different. Predictions are made on the best information available, but they are just that: predictions. They can change in a matter of hours,” she said.

“But by working together – government, the private sector, and residents – we can prepare and recover from this and any hazard in the best way possible.”