McCleary Frederick, Hazard Management Cayman Islands director
If you look at statistics, the Cayman Islands are impacted by hurricanes or tropical storms every two years. This long-term frequency rate provides sufficient evidence that the hurricane threat is significant, however, we have actually been largely spared from direct impacts over the past few years. In the absence of a direct impact from a tropical cyclone, I am concerned that we all have become somewhat complacent.
I strongly urge residents and visitors to be more vigilant and proactive in preparing for the hurricane season.
Those who experienced Hurricane Ivan or Paloma were shocked and stunned when storm surge entered their homes and destroyed their personal effects. In some cases, rising waters trapped residents in their homes, and some were forced into cramped roof spaces to escape the rising surge. Hopefully for those that experienced Ivan, any illusion that the sea cannot rise up 10 feet or more has now been shattered.
People should know that while storm surge is a significant threat for coastal communities – low lying areas inland are also at risk. Everyone needs to be conscious of the fact that every hurricane is different and there remains a possibility that the next hurricane could bring a higher storm surge and even stronger winds.
No one knows if we will be affected by tropical cyclones this year, but we can all be prepared and vigilant. All residents should check their emergency plans and supplies. Go through your normal preparation activities, clear your yard of debris, check on your shutters, put a hurricane supply kit together and make sure that insurance documents are in place. Use lessons learned from past storms and anticipate as well as you can. Everyone needs to spend some time preparing.
The accuracy of predicting and monitoring storm tracks has improved over the years and we have better information to make decisions, however, hurricanes remain inherently unpredictable. Take the risks posed by the hurricane season with the utmost seriousness and do all you can to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe.
No matter what the predictions are, it only takes one.
For more information visit caymanprepared.gov.ky.