Hurricane concerns were sweeping throughout the Western Caribbean region as a tropical storm developed at the start of the week which led to Cayman Islands Governor Martyn Roper issuing a public warning.
He posted a statement on Friday: “I’m sure everyone is aware and is preparing for the tropical storm/potential hurricane heading our way Sunday evening and into Monday. It is likely to impact all three islands. The UK, as ever, stands ready to support Cayman.
“The Premier and I have been in close contact on preparations and earlier this week I discussed the type of support we might need directly with senior London officials. Further planning discussions have taken place this week with Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI), my office and colleagues in London.
“One of the RCIPS helicopters has been in Turks and Caicos this week supporting in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. The helicopter will remain there, safely situated out of the way, which is normal practice for security reasons when there is a threat of storm. It will return to Cayman immediately after the storm has passed. The second helicopter remains on island and is fully operational.
“The Royal Navy ship HMS Medway, which was pre-positioned in the Caribbean as part of the UK’s support this hurricane season, is now on its way to support us if needed. Medway can offer immediate assistance with a Crisis Response Troop embarked, alongside Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief equipment and supplies.
“The vessel has skilled engineers on board who can help restore the airport if needed, as well as utilities support, fresh water and food stores and trained medics.
“We also have a second Royal Navy Ship RMS Tideforce currently en route to support TCI. It is another UK asset in the region that stands ready to support if needed.”
Mr Roper added that the UK’s Operational Liaison and Reconnaissance Team (OLRT), a four-person team of UK Ministry of Defence personnel, arrived on Grand Cayman on Friday and will work under HMCI, and the National Emergency Operations Committee. He added: “This is also an opportunity for the team to exercise for any future threats.”
Mr Roper announced: “The 100 strong Cayman Islands Regiment, established with UK support and trained by the UK MOD, are also on standby. The Regiment was created for this very reason. It is normal practice and also very important in these situations to over prepare and then pare back as needed. That is what we have asked the UK to do.”
To reassure us, he said: “Preparation remains key. We have strong, regularly tested, crisis response systems. Covid tested them rigorously and they performed very well. But it is important that the community also prepares for the worst. The current forecast is for possible cat 1 hurricane force winds in some areas of Grand Cayman. “But we should all be ready just in case it is worse than this and prepare accordingly. We have seen extreme weather events across the world. Climate change is real and feeding greater intensity and strength of adverse weather globally.
“Please look out for others in the community - your neighbours, friends and family members, especially the old and frail.”
• Follow Hazard Management Cayman Islands for a comprehensive list of the items needed to prepare for hurricanes as well as the location of emergency shelters (see: https://www.caymanprepared.gov.ky/ )
• For official bulletins and updates visit gov.ky
• It’s worth downloading the National Emergency Notification System app which will enable you to receive hurricane notifications directly to your mobile device. Go to https://nens.gov.ky/ for more information.
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