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Beryl - A close call for Cayman

Front Pages 08 Jul, 2024 Follow News

Beryl - A close call for Cayman

Press Conference Panel

HMS Brent

Everyone had their eyes on Hurricane Beryl - the earliest Category 5 hurricane ever recorded. Beryl had devastated areas of the Eastern Caribbean, causing havoc, heartbreak and misery, with lives lost, and extensive damage to property. But Bad Beryl passed us by, and on Thursday morning a steady stream of thanksgiving rose from households all across the Cayman Islands.

The all-clear for all three Cayman Islands was given on Thursday, 4 July at 3 pm, and by Friday morning, Cayman was experiencing a normal working day for nearly all businesses, institutions, and government departments.  Hurricane Beryl had caused very little damage – although there had been some minor flooding in places and some downed trees – but there was no major damage to property or loss of life directly attributable to the hurricane.

A Government press briefing on Friday 5 July gave updates from Her Excellency The Governor, Jane Owen, the Hon. Premier, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Deputy Premier Andre Ebanks, Hon. Sabrina Turner, MP · Minister for Health & Wellness and Home Affairs and Tourism Minister, the Hon. Kenneth Bryan.

Governor Owen said she had been, “Impressed, how everyone came together...thank you, everybody who is part of that effort.” She reaffirmed the people of the Cayman Islands of the UK’s continued and ongoing commitment to their safety, in the wake of the Labour-won general election that had happened the previous day.

A practical example was the Royal Navy ship HMS Brent which had been dispatched to the Cayman Islands, and she would be, ‘engaged in strategic conversations, getting to know each other well.’

The Premier began by expressing her thanks and gratitude to Almighty God, who had spared the Cayman Islands again. “Our prayers have been answered,” she said, adding that there have been no reports of either injuries, nor loss off life, directly attributable to the hurricane. She praised the way everyone had come together, with many Government departments and civil servants showing up for duty even when they weren’t obliged to. The

“Now that the hurricane has passed our focus has returned to recovery and restoration to all the normal life to return, she said, adding that the first cruise ship would be in the harbour on Monday Morning.

When it comes to national disasters not just egos should be left at the door but political preferences she said. She also praised the way the public had responded sensibly and responsibly abiding by all the advice and the safety protocols that had been issued, apart from a very few examples, such as someone who had foolishly gone out sailing during the marine warning. 

Premier O’Connor-Connolly also expressed her desire to work together in order to reach out a helping hand - bringing relief to those who had suffered so greatly as a result of the hurricane. “We are thinking of our Caribbean brothers and sisters. Its important we recognise our Caribbean neighbours and their long roads to recovery,” she said.

Deputy Premier Andre Ebanks gave updates from the Ministry of Social Development.

By-and-large, all services were back to normal. Ebanks praised all the institutions such as Cayman Finance and CIMA whose disaster preparedness and continuity plans had been put into action and found to be robust and workable. “And there has been an excellent response from the business Community in terms of their preparedness and continuity plans,” he said. 

He thanked the Chamber of Commerce who had activated its Council of Associations to provide important updates: That has enabled us to get important intelligence throughout the storm,” he said.

“All facilities are in good condition. The gallery and museum faired well,” he said. 

Tourism Minister, Hon Kenneth Bryan expressed his gratitude to all First Responders. “Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters around the region,” he said.

Minister Bryan said he was grateful to our national flag carrier, Cayman Airways, for helping evacuate thousands of residents and guests, before the hurricane, and that this was one of the virtues of having a national airline.

He was pleased to report that, after an assessment of terminals and runways, all three airports were able to open up from 3pm on Thursday 4 July and that the Cargo Pier was ready to open later on Friday.

All the tourist attractions were opening or ready to reopen. The Botanic Park had sustained minor damage, but was ready to open on Monday 8 July. None of the hotels reported any major issues, he said.  He reiterated that it was important not to let our guard down - it was still very early in the season, and there may be several serious hurricanes, ‘like Beryl’ ahead.

Minister Hon Sabrina Turner said that all H.S.A services had been resumed, and those who had missed appointments because of the hurricane could reschedule. She thanked the public for their response to the call for blood donations and reported that the DEH has resumed its collection of garbage in all islands. The Cayman Islands Regiment had been busy, helping wherever needed.

In response to a question from Caymanian Times on complacency, the Premier advised residents not to mess with mother nature and encouraged all to visit images from previous hurricanes Ivan and Paloma which were vivid reminders of the level of damage that these storms are capable of causing.

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