Community on alert over TS Ernesto
(CNS): As Tropical Storm Ernesto moved quickly through the south-eastern Caribbean Sea on Friday evening government officials were warning the community to be prepared for the storm to pass about 123 miles southwest of Grand Cayman late Monday night when Hazard Management said tropical storm force winds would brush the island. The Core Group of the National Hazard Management Council will meet at around 4.30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and make a decision about the closure of government offices on Monday.
Officials said after the meeting the decision would be communicated via the local media and the Cayman Prepared website.
At 5pm local time Ernesto was about 210 miles west of St. Lucia and travelling through the eastern Caribbean t around 21 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds remained at 50 mph with higher gusts but the National hurricane Centre in Miami predicted some strengthening in the coming days. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles mainly to the north and east of the centre.
Cayman residents were advised to begin preparations for the possible arrival of the storm on Monday. Government began its own preparations at the new building in Elgin Avenue on Friday afternoon after the NHMC convened its first meeting of this year’s hurricane season. Some 30 senior officers, representing critical response agencies, such as the Meteorology Office, the Health Services Authority and RCIPS, attended the meeting.
Grand Cayman is now in the ‘Alert’ phase – 72 hours before possibly being affected by Ernesto and the
‘Watch’ stage begins tomorrow afternoon. Government workers spent Friday afternoon securing the main government building, while PWD shuttering crews and the hurricane shelter staff have been put on alert.
“The civil service should ensure the continuity of government’s operations,” said Deputy Governor Franz Manderson,
Meanwhile, the RCIPS urged home and business owners to start taking precautions to secure their property and belongings in preparation for any potential evacuation.
“If you do have to leave your property, please make sure that your doors and windows are locked and that you close your hurricane shutters if you have them,” said Acting Chief Superintendent Kurt Walton.
“If you have to leave any valuables behind, make sure that they are safely protected within your homes and that you take all necessary steps to make your premises as safe and secure as possible. You should also make sure that your valuables are security marked and that you take notes of makes, models, serial numbers and take photographs. These simple security steps will assist in the recovery of your property if it goes missing,” he added.
Walton explained that during a storm or hurricane the police have a number of jobs and include shelter security, protecting critical infrastructure and, of course, maintaining law and order.
“Any criminal activity before, during or after any storm activity will not be tolerated and those who engage in it will be dealt with appropriately,” the senior officer warned.
Business owners are reminded that they should make immediate application for curfew exemption passes. In the event of a Hurricane and the declaration of a curfew, the passes will be issued to key personnel who work within the private sector to allow them to work past the curfew times, as and when required, to assist in the post-hurricane recovery process.
The application form for the exemption passes can be found on the Hurricane Section of the RCIPS website.
The curfew applications should be filled in and taken to the nearest police station within your district. The District Commander will vet the applications which must be accompanied by a photo ID of the person whom the application is for. The District Commander will decide whether the application meets the criteria, in accordance with the Police Law 2010 Revision, Section 49 and the Police (Emergency Powers) Regulations 2004 Revision.
Residents and businesses may see regular updates about Ernesto on the HMCI’s website (CaymanPrepared.ky) on Facebook and Twitter accounts, Radio Cayman and all local media.
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