Shelter Management Training in Cayman Brac
Published 14th October 2013, 1:4pm
A Shelter Managers Training Course was held in Cayman Brac on Thursday, September 19th, 2013. Sixteen people took part in the training which was held in the Conference Room at the District Administration building. All participants were Sister Islands Civil Servants and the trainers included District Commissioner Ernie Scott, Deputy District Commissioner Mark Tibbetts, Deputy Collector of Customs Dave Tatum and HMCI Director McCleary Frederick.
District Commissioner Ernie Scott said he was pleased to have a team of trained Shelter Management volunteers who live and work in Cayman Brac, “This is very important because local managers know the shelterees and their families. They are also familiar with the local issues and conditions. Of course we are always open to help and assistance from volunteers from Grand Cayman and elsewhere if necessary.”
Mr. Scott added that the overall condition of the shelters and level of shelter readiness in the Sister Islands is good, “Our shelters are certified by structural engineers and equipped with cots, pillows and blankets. We also maintain a supply of emergency supplies, including food and water, sufficient for a minimum of three days. Our shelters are rated among the best in the region and are fitted with emergency generators – they are also air-conditioned. Our shelters are managed by a competent management team including, Shelter Managers, Medical Staff, Police, Fire Service and other support personnel such as janitors and plumbers. The official shelters in the Sister Islands can be activated within 2 - 3 hours of an order being given.”
HMCI assisted with planning and delivering the Shelter Managers training in the Brac and provided lunch for participants. HMCI Director, McCleary Frederick was directly involved in delivering various components of the training programme and also provided answers to many questions and concerns that arose during the session. Shelter Managers in the Sister Islands have also been trained in First Aid and CPR.
Regarding lessons learned in Hurricane Paloma Mr. Scott said “The biggest lesson learned was to have the shelters ready and open early, even if the threat seems minimal. Hurricane Paloma’s track was significantly different from what was forecast by the weather experts. The other lesson learned is just how frail and uncertain life can be, generally speaking.
Old habits are sometimes slow to change in Cayman Brac and there are still some families who choose to use the caves for sheltering when a hurricane approaches, however, most people are now comfortable using the official shelters. Over the past few years a significant number of private homes have been built on the bluff and this helps ease the numbers at shelters as people stay in their own homes and also invite other family members and friends to shelter with them in their structurally sound houses. “Our refuge from hurricanes is the bluff and people are making good use of this. Government has also improved the road network on the bluff and we always encourage people to move to higher ground away from flood prone areas, especially areas near the coast.”
Mr. Scott added that there will always be certain people who simply refuse to leave their private homes, regardless! “These are generally persons who live in structurally sound houses. Hurricanes, Iva, Gustav and Paloma have taught us a lot of lessons and most people respond positively to the risks associated with hurricanes. I am very pleased with our Disaster Management Programme and the facilities that we have available to us here in the Sister Islands; we are truly blessed. I wish to thank our Government and the many persons who make this possible. We have a new Emergency Shelter currently under construction on the bluff which will also serve as a school. The first phase is scheduled for completion next year and will further enhance our emergency management capabilities here in the Sister Islands. Once completed this facility will become our headquarters for disaster management in the Sister Islands and will house our local Emergency Command Centre.”
Cayman Brac is one of the few places with a designated shelter for dogs and cats. It is managed by the Brac Humane Society and it is also located on the bluff.