(CMR) Governor Martyn Roper said a team from the UK will arrive in the Cayman Islands today to work with local authorities as the country anticipates a tropical storm or possible hurricane this weekend.
Mr. Roper said the UK's Operational Liaison and Reconnaissance Team (OLRT) is ready to help.
“This four-person team of UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) personnel will arrive on Grand Cayman today and will work under HMCI, embedded in the National Emergency Operations Committee (NEOC) as a direct link to the UK MOD. This is also an opportunity for the team to exercise for any future threats,” Governor Roper said.
He said the Royal Navy ship HMS Medway, which was pre-positioned in the Caribbean as part of the UK's support this hurricane season, is also now on its way to support the Cayman Islands if needed.
He explained that the Medway could offer immediate assistance with a Crisis Response Troop embarked, alongside Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief equipment and supplies. The vessel has skilled engineers on board who can help restore the airport if needed, as well as utilities support, fresh water and food stores, and trained medics.
If needed, further support can also come from a second Royal Navy Ship RMS Tideforce currently en route to support TCI.
“I'm sure everyone is aware and is preparing for the Tropical Storm/potential hurricane heading our way Sunday evening and into Monday. It is likely to impact all three islands. The UK, as ever, stands ready to support Cayman,” Mr. Roper said.
He further stated that he has been in contact with the Premier discussing preparations. Mr Roper said he has also discussed the type of support that might be needed directly with senior London officials. Further planning discussions have also taken place this week with Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI), the Governor and colleagues in London.
Mr. Roper explained that one of the RCIPS helicopters which has been in Turks and Caicos supporting in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, will remain there, safely situated out of the way, which is normal practice for security reasons when there is a threat of storm. It will return to Cayman immediately after the storm has passed. The second helicopter remains on island and is fully operational.
The Governor stated that the 100-strong Cayman Islands Regiment, established with UK support and trained by the UK MOD, are also on standby.
“It is normal practice and also very important in these situations to over-prepare and then pare back as needed. That is what we have asked the UK to do,” Mr. Roper said.
He added, “Preparation remains key. We have strong, regularly tested, crisis response systems. COVID tested them rigorously and they performed very well. But it is important that the community also prepares for the worst. The current forecast is for possible cat 1 hurricane force winds in some areas of Grand Cayman. But we should all be ready just in case it is worse than this and prepare accordingly.”
“We have seen extreme weather events across the world. Climate change is real and feeding greater intensity and strength of adverse weather globally,” Mr. Roper went on to add.
People are encouraged to follow Hazard Management Cayman Islands for a comprehensive list of the items needed to prepare for hurricanes as well as the location of emergency shelters (see: https://www.caymanprepared.gov.ky/)
For official bulletins and updates please visit gov.ky
Also, consider downloading the National Emergency Notification System app, which will enable you to receive hurricane notifications directly to your mobile device. Please see https://nens.gov.ky/ for more information.
“Please look out for others in the community – your neighbors, friends, and family members, especially the old and frail,” Governor Roper said.