Cayman Prepared says Premier
As the Cayman Islands move from full suppression to lesser restrictions in response to COVID-19 and the country emerges from weeks of lock-down, Cayman’s leaders are now grappling with the ominous specter of a very active Hurricane Season.
An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center.
The outlook predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is also forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.
NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence, according to its website.
Cayman Islands Premier, the Honourable Alden McLaughlin addressed the issue of a busier than usual Hurricane Season coinciding with the fight against COVID-19 in a press conference held on 2nd June.
“I am making my usual plea to make sure your hurricane supplies are stocked and that you have a plan for your family and business and that you stay safe. However, my usual plea goes further this year as we are still concerned about the impact of COVID-19,” he said.
“There are many people who are out of work so just getting the necessary 3 to 5 days of non-perishable food water and ply-wood for shuttering may be difficult. Government is keenly aware these are very challenging times and we will continue to assist where we can,” added Mr. McLaughlin.
He explained that Cayman’s National Emergency Operations Center is working to ensure that appropriate social distancing protocols are in place in all emergency centers and that there will be stocks of masks and personal protective equipment available for everyone.
However, the Premier pointed out that the inability of some persons to return to their countries, as evacuation options were not readily available, would put extra strain on shelter space and social distancing would make the situation all the more complicated.
“Additional shelter buildings have been identified and are currently being assessed for suitability,” said the Government’s top official, who added that the Government plans to update the list of approved shelters in a few weeks.
“If you do plan to go to a shelter please take masks, sanitizers and a stock of food and water… You won’t be turned away if you don’t have these supplies,” he affirmed.
Given the shortage of shelter space and the need for social distancing, the CI Government is asking that persons consider any other shelter options they may have.
The Premier noted that due to the Corona Virus response efforts, “...the Island is as ready as it has ever been for any threat we may face, including a Hurricane.”
“Here in the Caynan Islands we know we can weather storms. We have a long history of doing so. We are a strong and resilient people and we are at our best when were are helping each other during a difficult time. Also we are blessed to have a National Weather Service that is linked regionally and can stay on top of all weather issues, informing us well in advance and giving us time to prepare,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
He urged that persons pay attention to Government announcements and bulletins on all the government media platforms for information on what to expect and what to do.
“The memories of Hurricane Ivan and Paloma still weigh heavily on the mind, as do those of the earthquake we experienced in January of this year. These experiences taught us that we should always be prepared and always have a plan.”
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.