Report from Jack Benz

Photos of damage from Ivan in Grand Cayman

Hi Folks
A note from here in England obviously a good distance from Ivan and what it did in the Cayman Islands.  We have obviously been worried to death about the effects on our home on Grand Cayman, and what condition it was in after the passing of the great storm.  Days passed and no word from anyone.  All electricity was out, water had been turned off, and land line telephones were out from the first day of the storm.  A few Cell Phones were working, but the circuits were completely out from the UK to Cayman.  Try as we may, all we got were busy signals, and more busy signals.  I finally got through on Wednesday (By Cell Phone) to a friend on Grand Cayman who promised to go by our house and check things out.  Thank goodness he reached Dave Schudel, who has been staying in our house while we were off the islands. 

Well we were overjoyed last evening to receive a phone call from Dave who works as the Forensic Pathologist at the Hospital via the Hospital phone system which is back in service.  I was almost afraid to ask him what had happened after all of the horror stories we had heard on TV.  He simply said that we would be happy to hear that our house was still standing, and that the roof was still attached.

Some minor damage in the form of a lot of the shingles that had gone with the wind, a plaster board ceiling in our car port that had given way, and fallen on to Barbara's Car.  Speaking of the Honda CRV, it started although the alternator was out because salt water damage.  My Mazda truck also started, and were still in the two car ports where we had parked them.
Considering that cars were floating out to sea or submerged on the streets, ours came though with no damage.

Our satellite dish was still standing but all of the aluminum forming the dish had been shredded and blown away.  All of our trees are down as are practically every tree on the island.  My outside storage shed got blown away but its contents stayed on the cement slab to which the shed was attached.  Our fresh water cistern, is now brakish as seawater  with a tidal surge of 8 foot inundated  everything in its path.  This included 2 to 3 foot of water which passed though the interior of our house soaking just about everything but the air mattress on our bed.  Obviously the water left the house as the water receded.  O well we wanted to redo the interior anyway.

Peak gust off 208 mph were recorded at the Airport, but the airport and its tower survived,  Plans of course had all left well before the storm.   Some flights have resumed in the last 2 days, bringing food, water and emergency supplies to the island, and taking stranded tourists back to Miami.  As you can appreciate, fresh water is at a premium, and food is scarce although two of the three supermarkets on the island have resumed business opening with
in 36 hour of the storms end.

Kirks supermarket  appears to have exploded, and nothing is left of the building  or its stocks.  It was 1 block from the western shore, and apparently 20 foot seas cam crashing down on it, carrying away everything in its path.  Light, and telephone poles  litter the streets, crushed cars are the norm, and practically every business down town George Town has broken glass, lost roofs, some buildings completely demolished.  The Hyatt, and Marriott hotels lost their roofs and in general the carnage of property was almost total.  Only about 10% of homes and business's escaped with only minor damage  Ours was amongst that 10%.  Mariners Cove a condominium complex along the South Sound road, was completely demolished and debris strewn across the east west highway.  All that was remaining was an empty cement slab where the buildings once stood.  Nothing was spared.

Dave who had his sailboat tied to our dock lost the boat as it broke lose, and got impaled on one of the pilings of the dock.  It still sitting their, with the only hope of salvage being a lifting crane to get it up on dry land for transport to the boat yard 3 blocks from our house.  Hopefully the hull can be repaired, and the boat re floated. 

So far no reported loss of life, due to good planning, and sufficient storm shelters.  We hope that when the final chapter is written we will be the only island to report 0 fatalities.

Having been through 5 hurricanes during my life, Ivan is one that I am happy not to have had to sit though.  It is far and away the largest, most devastating, and most powerful one in my memory, and I believe the biggest storm of the 20th  century.  Our house is cement block construction with reinforcing rods between the blocks, and poured cement from ground to roof. We had accordion hurricane shutters on all windows, and not one shutter was damage, nor one pane of glass even cracked.  With all this preparation, Dave told me that at the peak of the storm sitting in the North bedroom, he could feel the wall actually vibrate, and he felt that it was going to let go at any moment.  He was absolutely terrified, and I don't blame him.

Well alls well that end well, I guess.  A lot of clean up to do, and I am going to try to head back as soon as possible probably within the next 10 days two weeks or when the power is returned.  Not much you can do with out power  or water.  Barbara will stay here probably until the first of November, when she will meet me in Florida for a little rest  I HOPE.
The storm Ivan