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Adopt a culture of readiness

Know the dangers of the storm

The destructive force of tropical storms and hurricanes comes from four areas: strong winds, heavy rains, crashing waves and storm surge. When most people think of hurricanes, they conjure up pictures of the wind. They can also envision the heavy rain, which can cause streets, yards, and, in some cases, the insides of buildings to flood.

What many people do not think of, especially if they are not from the Caribbean or have never experienced a hurricane before, are the dangers of the sea: the high, crashing waves and rising sea level (storm surge) that cause sea water to come inland and combine with the rain to produce sudden, severe, even life-threatening flooding.

A storm surge is a rise in the level of the sea. It occurs as storm winds push water forward.

 As the storm nears land, the water builds up to several feet above normal sea level, add to this the waves, which ride on top of the already high seas. These waves, themselves several feet high, can crash hundreds of yards inland in a severe storm, battering structures by their own force and the force of rocks and other objects in them. These often destroy and pull out to sea everything in their path, including structures tens of feet above normal sea level.

As the Cayman Islands are low-lying (particularly Grand Cayman and Little Cayman), small and narrow, they are vulnerable to storm surge and to dangerous wave action. In any case, severe flooding from rain, waves and/or surges can affect any area of the islands, depending on the strength of the particular storm, the path it is travelling, and how close its centre comes to land.

Structures on or near the waterfront are always the most vulnerable (all coastal and canal-front areas, including land bordering the North Sound). So are the narrowest sections of land: Little Cayman; the western end of Cayman Brac; and, on Grand Cayman, Prospect to West Bay. It is important to know however, that any structure, anywhere in the islands that is not built or reinforced to hurricane-resistance standards is at risk.

Guidance and Resources

Download printables, plans, tracking charts and other resources to help you, your family and your business keep safe during hurricane season.