Busy day in the Cayman Islands
* From: "Chris McTaggart" <cmctagga at candw.ky>
* Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2008 01:30:42 -0500
Good evening SC Family and Friends,
As promised I would update on this day after I got off work…here I am, late, but I had to have a nap!
Busy day it was indeed and certainly as you can imagine lots of information and talk about the event we experienced. The biggest talk of course was about the devastation that was still taking place on the Sister Islands even when we were starting a day’s work. I will elaborate further on…..
The office day started with a regrouping to discuss the startup operation which went very well and was more importantly implemented very smoothly. We got our aircraft back to home base all at around 4:00 pm and then continued to operate flights to Miami and Jamaica to stabilize the service from yesterdays unplanned cancellations. To summarize, everything ran and continuing to run smoothly through the planned longer than usual night operation.
Our Twin Otter which services the daily inter-island service returned back to Cayman around 3:30 pm and was dispatched to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Due to the fact that there is no power in Cayman Brac, the stop in Little Cayman first was to pick up the standby runway lights (used in Little Cayman only for emergency operations at night) so that the aircraft could do flights later in this evening into Brac. First and second flight piloted by Captain Harrison Bothwell, carried essential workers, government personnel, and the most important items needed. A third flight was setup but I am not sure if it operated as before I went to nap I got reports that rain showers were approaching the Brac area which would add difficulty to the operation. Thanks goes out to the entire Cayman Airways Express Team led by Manager Captain Johan Bjuroe for an immediate and smooth implementation for the much needed relief flights to the Sister Islands. A full days Express Operation to is scheduled to continue tomorrow. Mainline Cayman Airways is set to resume full normal published schedule flying as well.
Now this email post could get so long I am going to have to summarize a lot of the reports:
LITTLE CAYMAN – As weird as it may sound and as close as the Sister Islands are to one another, Little Cayman feared much better than Cayman Brac and that is based on reports from actual persons on both islands. Just like the Brac, Little Cayman’s main damage was along the north coast area. The north coast had 90% of the electrical poles and lines flattened and heavy vegetation damage. I am told that there was damage to some homes on the north coastline but I have not heard of any catastrophic damage. The south coast experienced one home totally destroyed and others minor damage, some light poles and of course vegetation as well and the resorts which are all in this area reported no damage. This was quite obvious when resorts in Little Cayman called to find advise that their tourist occupants wanted to know if they could continue their vacation without having a problem getting out on their booked flight later in the week. I guess some of our Little Cayman posters will be able to post later and advise more details on specific and individual damage observed as it does take days to evaluate and recognize it all.
CAYMAN BRAC – I can only begin this report by repeating the words of many from the Brac this morning “Paloma did Cayman Brac what Ivan did to Grand Cayman and probably worse”. The reports of the Brac poured in all day, from personal phone calls to me from persons in the Brac that earlier on in the day had been reading my posts on SC on what was happening in Grand Cayman, to friends, family of friends, and my own airline employees who work and live there. I can only tell you folks it is very hard to describe in words what was told to me, typing it all would take hours, and the word “Devastation” would be repeated over and over again. I have been told many times today by many Brac residents that 90% of the structures in Cayman Brac were heavily damaged, and in some cases demolished. When I reported earlier this morning that the Seaman’s Center roof was blown off I did not realize that there were actually people inside and it was being used as a shelter. Later this morning this was confirmed to me and also learnt that some individuals were injured as a result, but minor. The Aston Rutty Center, another shelter, along with the West End School also did receive some roof and other damage as well. The airport terminal received a lot of damage as well and all the communication and weather equipment for the operation of the Control Tower which is housed on the top of the cab was all blown away. All runway wind instruments and wind socks are nonexistent. The runway conditions this morning relative to water, as it does have a pond which parallels its south side, beginning at the western end had water from its south edge inward to the centerline about a foot deep, for approximately 2000 feet. In addition, for the remaining distance, water a couple inches deep, covered the runways south edge inward about 15 feet. This water mainly came from an overflowing pond but to complicate the matter, the special runway drainage port to the sea was blocked from actually draining due to the heavy seas crashing on the shoreline. For those of you not familiar, the airport is located on the extreme western end of Cayman Brac, and the runway begins just 50 feet in from the water’s edge. The water was one issue, but the entire runway was filled with debris ranging from construction wood, roofing shingles, lots of roofing nails, and other materials. Every apron flood light pole had snapped off and were all over the entire area in front of the terminal. Public workers worked diligently, after it was safe, to move all the poles from the apron area and cleared the first 3500 feet of the eastern end of the runway of all debris for the preparation of the first Twin Otter aircraft arrival this evening. I understand that workers will be cleaning out the drain port at the end of the runway tomorrow which will allow the standing water to recede from the runway quickly and the pond to return to a normal level. Jet operation into Cayman Brac is not going to take place or be possible until full cleanup of the runway and ramp is completed, and the authorities give the okay. I realize this is getting long so I will stop here for now as I am sure other posters will add more information too, especially on specific topics.
MISC – I had so many calls from overseas today requesting information on specific locations and I did promise to find out what I could, but unfortunately 2 callers showed up as “Unknown Number” so I was unable to call them back when I got the information. Hopefully they will see this post next time they visit the site.
Grand Cayman – (1) Kaibo Area – There is no reported damage from this area or the surrounding Rum Point and Sand Point areas. (2) South Sound – Again no damage reported in this area except for vegetation and no there was no storm surge or flooding issues.
I must close this post now, but before I go I must make important mention in reference to the devastation in Cayman Brac in particular, just like after Ivan, the importance of our National Airline has once again proven itself to its country and people. Yes it does have a price for its security, but each and every local and resident should be proud to sing out “We need it, we love it, we support it, we benefit from it, our country deserves it, so we shall always protect it”…..Cayman Airways!! Sir Turtle you are Caymanian pride, and I had to add this paragraph of recognition for you, me, and the rest of our airline family.
Good Night SC Family and friends, and please pray for the recovery, comfort, and safety of our Sister Islands residents.