The Public Works Department (PWD) and National Roads Authority (NRA) completed their 34th consecutive joint hurricane preparedness exercise on Wednesday, 5 May 2021.
Some 170 PWD and NRA staff fanned out around Grand Cayman to inspect 97 Government buildings for hurricane preparedness ahead of the start of the Hurricane Season on 1 June. All 15 purpose-built hurricane shelters were found to be available for shelter if needed.
Teams testing for overall hurricane readiness, shuttered up key government buildings and shelters, checked and started standby generators and verified that cistern water levels were at an acceptable level and state.
Once the facilities were shuttered, inspectors also carried out detailed inspections to certify that the buildings are adequately secured. This exercise replicates the activities that will take place in the event of a real hurricane.
Some statutory authorities also participated in the exercise, by securing their own facilities.
Speaking to staff at the PWD compound at the start of the exercise The Acting Director of PWD Troy Whorms and Ministry representative Leyda Nicholson-Makasare thanked the team for their contributions to preparedness and urged them to exercise safety during the exercise.
The long-established standard is for the exercise to be complete within six hours. This year’s exercise time took 5 hrs. and 10 mins.
The first CI Government official shuttering exercise was held in 1988 some months before Hurricane Gilbert hit the Islands.
Government agencies offer preparedness tips
With the start of the hurricane season only a few weeks away, organisers of the 34th annual hurricane preparedness exercise encouraged members of the public to review their own home protection plans with a focus on the following items:
1. What materials will be used to cover windows and glass doors in the event of a hurricane (usually plywood or purpose-built aluminum shutters).
2. Where will these materials be obtained, and how will they be installed (it is often too late to consider this once a hurricane warning has been issued as these materials are in limited supply on the island in the event of a hurricane).
3. Is your home a safe place to stay in the event of a hurricane? If it is situated on or near the sea, or it is of poor construction, then it is not. If not, where will you stay? In the home of a friend, relative or at your workplace or in a public hurricane shelter?
Interested persons should visit the Hazard Management Cayman Islands website at http://www.caymanprepared.gov.ky/ for official guidance on Disaster Preparedness.