Hurricane Paloma was supposed to swing wide of the tiny scuba paradise called Cayman Brac (often simply called “the Brac”). Many of the residents didn’t even bother heading for storm shelters on the night of November 7. But by daybreak, the horrible evidence of a Category 4 hurricane’s direct hit was on display for the world to see.
Although the larger island of Grand Cayman generally escaped the wrath of Hurricane Paloma, up to 1,000 people have been left homeless among Cayman Brac’s population of 1,800, the Caymanian Compass reported. Many residents were left with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Two of the three public storm shelters sustained significant roof damage. And the airport’s runway was submerged, unable to allow jet planes access to deliver desperately needed supplies to a shell-shocked population.
Yet, many people beyond the boundaries of the Cayman Islands have no idea that the country has suffered a major trauma because the largest island of Grand Cayman generally escaped the hurricane’s fury. But as District Commissioner Ernie Scott estimated, some 90 percent of the homes on Cayman Brac had lost part or all of their roofs in the storm.
The Rotary Clubs on Grand Cayman have combined their efforts to display photos and dispense information about hurricane-ravaged Cayman Brac at: http://caymanrotary.wordpress.com. The Web site details damage reports and provide on-site updates from recent Hurricane that devastated the island.
The international donor community is urged to help the island nation get back on its feet. The site accepts credit card donations for the Brac relief effort, making it easy for people outside of Cayman to contribute even a few dollars.
Further, the diving community is encouraged to spread the word about the Internet site to others who may not realize that a disaster did occurred in that popular scuba location. However, it is important to note that Little Cayman sustained only slight damage and is on schedule to welcome divers back on November 22 to world famous Bloody Bay Wall.
Meanwhile, the people of Cayman Brac will have a struggle rebuilding the homes and businesses lost to a storm that inflicted as much, if not more–damage as the famous “Storm of 1932” that seems to have followed the same path as Hurricane Paloma and struck with eerie irony on the same date to mark the 76th anniversary.