Skip navigation

You are here: Homepage > Press Room > Press Releases 2009 > Ivan 5th Anniversary Commemorated

Published 11th September 2009, 12:17pm

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Stuart Jack CVO, Hurricane Ivan's 5th Anniversary Message

Five years ago these Islands survived a disaster of historic proportions, with devastation on a scale unseen since the passage of the 1932 hurricane.

I speak, of course, of the unwelcome passage of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

When I arrived in Grand Cayman just over one year later, the recovery was already quite remarkable. But from the stories I heard from many people, and from the images I saw, I received solid insight into what you had faced during and immediately after the storm.

As Chairman of the National Recovery Fund I met people who were still suffering and came to understand how Ivan had affected people and how much had to be done to recover fully.

Unfortunately, all of this became all too real again last year, with Hurricane Paloma's devastation of the Sister Islands. Paloma was my first encounter with a hurricane of such proportions, and while Grand Cayman was not directly affected, I will always remember the experience.

Examining the damage and losses on the ground, and working with local and regional agencies, as well as with the United Kingdom Government to bring relief, I got a clear sense of the delicate balance of life in these beautiful islands.

But mostly when I reflect on Ivan and Paloma, I feel that these events served to reinforce my sense of humanity, family and connectivity.

I was able to observe the spirit of unity firsthand. It was evident at all levels, from residents and workers pulling together to resolve problems, to the outpouring of private sector and local and overseas agency support.

As head of the civil service, I again commend those involved with Hurricane Ivan. The widespread opinion is that this was proudest moment of Cayman's public service. In spite of personal losses, workers from all branches of government responded with sacrifice and determination to the tasks at hand.

So too, did the people as a whole. You assisted friends and strangers alike; you shared vital information and supplies with residents and visitors; emergency responders rescued those in need, worked mightily to restore utilities; and, of course, you helped the economy regain its feet.

I especially commend the most vulnerable members of the community - our elderly and our children. Even with so many homes and schools damaged or destroyed, they displayed a quiet resilience and tenacity which was outstanding.

And happily, it is evident that the Cayman of today has internalised the lessons of hurricane preparedness and recovery. Each hurricane season we go about our business with a new level of awareness, as well as a concern and empathy for others who are subjected to the awesome forces of nature. Everyone on these islands must avoid complacency and remain prepared. Please take this opportunity to check your hurricane plans.

While Ivan and Paloma now have indelible places on the pages of the history of the Cayman Islands, it must be stated that the human spirit outshone and triumphed over the darkness and destruction which both storms wrought, and the people of these islands demonstrated that solutions can be found to any obstacle.

I wish everyone safe passage during this and future hurricane seasons, and pray that with God's guidance, the Cayman Islands will not only overcome whatever difficulties the country faces, but will emerge even stronger.

The Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP, Leader of Government Business (Premier Designate) and Minister of Financial Services, Tourism & Development

Message for Hurricane Ivan's 5th Anniversary

This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Ivan's passage across Grand Cayman on 11th and 12th September 2004.

And though the memory for so many of us may be one that focuses on fear and loss, it is also interwoven with the experience of compassion, unity, cooperation and survival.

As a people, we truly demonstrated our resourcefulness and resilience in the face of what seemed to be an impossible situation. The devastation was incalculable and there seemed to be very few options regarding a way forward.

But for us, confronting and successfully overcoming challenges has always been a part of our heritage. We are no strangers to hard work and dedication, and certainly not to finding creative ways to hurdle obstacles that threaten to derail our careful plans.

Ivan brought this community together in a way that was reminiscent of days past, when neighbours knew they could depend on each other for help.

As the storm approached, people volunteered to help others prepare their homes for impact. As the weather worsened, there were those who risked their lives to rescue neighbours in difficulty; many worked to secure surroundings during the darkest hours -- even when they were unsure of their own families and properties. And in the aftermath, many shared food, generators and homes with those who'd experienced severe losses.

Then there were the good Samaritans who travelled to Cayman from afar, some to help restore our utilities and others to work on restoring our infrastructure and economy.

Today, who can tell that such a devastating event even took place? Looking around, our recovery was indeed remarkable. It stands as a testament to the will and strength of so many.

But now, as we face other serious challenges, the determination, drive, and ingenuity with which we approached post-Ivan recovery are the exact attributes we should draw on in our effort to rise above the current economic storm.

Already many have made, and still are making, their contributions. Suggestions and possible solutions to help us navigate these unknown waters are still being submitted.

For this is yet another period in our history when we must pull together, putting all differences aside to find the means to survive - just as we did with Hurricane Ivan and more recently, Paloma. We should always be mindful of where we were when the hurricane passed, of what we did for each other, and most importantly what God did for us.

In closing I leave you with these words of encouragement from the book of Isaiah, chapter 43, verse two: When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Learn from Ivan and Paloma: plan, prepare and persevere. Take care this hurricane season and God Bless!

Chief Secretary the Hon. Donovan Ebanks, MBE JP, Message for Hurricane Ivan's 5th Anniversary

On this fifth anniversary of Hurricane Ivan, many of us will recall the dramatic events that unfolded over that 11-12 September weekend, or between Saturday night and Monday morning.

Caymanians have long been known for their practical heritage and we remain mindful of the power of the elements. Our forefathers understood the need to be cautious and to respect the might of the sea.

I clearly recall those pre-Ivan hours as we prepared for what we realized could be a devastating event. Inside the Emergency Operations Centre, we were especially concerned for residents of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman as they battened down in expectation of a direct hit. However, as warnings had suggested it might, Ivan's direction changed and the storm set its sights on Grand Cayman.

We were not unprepared: leading up to the storm, some 10,000 residents and visitors had been evacuated and indeed, a similar number left ravaged Grand Cayman soon afterwards.

And I say "ravaged" deliberately. For make no mistake, Ivan was a devastatingly powerful weather system. During and after the onslaught of this Category 4 hurricane, our country's infrastructure was heavily damaged and our emergency plans thoroughly tested by the elements.

Add last year's Paloma to Ivan and, without fear of contradiction, I can say that we all have enough hurricane memories to last a lifetime.

Yet, invariably, positive memories outweigh the negative. Certainly our heroes comprise one of our most outstanding Ivan legacies. Their actions and our collective sense of responsibility helped to take us safely through and these characteristics also bode well for the future. Much of our success in overcoming adversity has resulted from our preparedness levels, our faith and our spirit of optimism.

We have been fortunate that this hurricane season has been a quiet one so far. Let us not forget though that it still has three months to run, and that the latter half of the season is well known for systems that develop rather quickly and close to us, particularly to the south.

But on this fifth anniversary of Hurricane Ivan, let us again give thanks; let us continue to demonstrate our positive qualities. While we all understand that the future is unpredictable, let us pledge to take the inner strength which sustained us through the storms and make it the standard for our everyday living.

In closing, I give thanks for divine providence and the protection of Almighty God. May He continue to protect and bless the people of these beautiful islands.

(GIS)