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Giles

Grand Cayman - Ivan

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This isn't looking so good down here, you may not have noticd as the weather chanel is still talking about florida, but we have a huge hurricane heading right for us here in Grand Cayman.

I have seen a few before, but this is much bigger and heading much more for us, the sister isalnds, little cayman and cayman brac have been evacuated, and everything here is closed.

 

But I will be taking my camera out in the name of photography, i'll let you know how we all do down here.

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The latest track shows Ivan passing between Grand Cayman and Little Cayman. Hopefully it stays right in the middle and doesn't directly hit either. Hold on tight and good luck.

 

Larry

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Stay safe and let us know what happens. I am due to move down there at the end of the month. I have a feeling my first duties will involve carpentry...

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I was on Little Cayman until they evacuated us on Thursday. Giles, stay safe and I hope the damages is minimal, right now it doesn't look good. Jamaica was spared a direct hit and still suffered considerable damage.

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This things eye is 60 miles wide ... and it is predicted to come 30 miles off our east coast last check i saw, i'm kinda excited (i always get excited in a storm) but this one is scaring me al itle bit.

Gerb were you with the DDnet trip ? staying at Little Cayman Beach resort and diving with Reef divers (both of which i proudly work for now)

I have never seen an evacuation before .. in the 6 years i have been here for. Kinda was the first emphasis. I have put a lot of work into getting my company's stuff ready, and my landlord did my house, i can't do much more, i'll post some pics if I get any nice ones .. am seeing if i can rig my webcam up outside too .. all the otherones are down.

Anyways, I am not sure we really need a direct hit from this beast, just glad it is going round the east side of the island .. 25 miles across land from me.

Don't worry .. as soon as this thing is past we will be back diving again .. visibility is back normal after about 4 days normally :)

 

does taking a photo in terential down purs classify as underwater ?

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Good luck Giles, it looks really scary from what I have seen of Jamaica on the BBC

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Good luck Cayman guys. I've been through two hurricanes and sure don't envy you this monster. Stay safe.....

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Anyone hear from Giles? I hope he came through ok.

Haven't been able to find a lot of info about Cayman itself but from what i have read it sounds like no casualties, i hope that is true.

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Cyclones are sort of fun, if you've got a good solid house. I was doing a 'cyclone dance' last season in the hope I could get a direct hit on this town, cos my house was pretty much bomb proof. I've moved now and although there's wires all around the house to hold the roof on, I unfortunately live right where the storm surge would come flooding through. No cyclone dances from me this season.

 

Main problem though as I found out when we got hit by a category 4 last year was that it really makes a mess of the coral and stuffs up the viz for a good while afterwards.

 

So anyway, good luck to all those in the Caymans!

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I don't think vis will return in 4 days - after all Hurricane Ivan is a category 5 hurricane.

 

My 2 experiences with hurricanes and diving have been with

- Hurricane Michelle, a category 4, in Cuba 2 weeks after it blew through - visibility was down to about 15 feet from the usual 80-90 feet.

- Hurricane Juan, a category 2, in Halifax, Nova Scotia about a month after it ripped through and visibility was down to 5 feet from the usual 20-50 feet in the area I was diving.

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I was there for the storm. I'm OK. Giles is OK - I went to his house and his neighbours told me. My group are also fine and all now back in the UK.

 

The storm was massive. 95-100% of buildings have some damage. Max wind speed 208mph, sustained winds of 150mph+ for 4 hours. They say no one has been reported killed. From what I saw - and I saw most of the island - I cannot believe that can be true (I hope it is).

 

More soon.

But I'm just back in the UK. Unfortunately all my camera kit and computers made it back - damn it - just when I needed a juicy insurance claim for a D2X!

 

Alex[/u]

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Alex, wished I'd have know you were there. We spent Thursday night in GC at the Marriott after our evac from Little Cayman. Snorkeled on 7 mile beach most of that afternoon playing with the Subal and working on Some O/U shots. Without strobes, it's just a bit negative. Lots to learn but very pleased with the housing, the dome didn't show water drops at all:

 

DSC_1727_barbara3_550.jpg

 

Giles, hope you and your friends are safe and get things back together soon.

 

Rand

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Thank goodness there are some strong building there aside from the banks ;-) It's amazing the human losses aren't higher.

 

I noticed Sunset House just updated their website and said they will be undergoing reconstruction for the next 6-8 weeks.

 

Marty

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On a slightly lighter note, this was my last UW picture before hurricane Ivan. Taken on my second dive on Friday morning on the North Wall - we were the only diveboat on the water. Most operators stopped diving on Wednesday.

 

dq4.jpg

 

Nikon d100, sigma 28-70mm.

 

Lets home Cayman is re-open for business soon, and divers are returning - helping them get back to normal and start to earn again is a great way to help the islands recover (while having a great holiday yourself!). Many dive operators are aiming to be operational by the end of October/start of November.

 

Alex

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I thought I would share an email bulletin I received from Cathy Church describing the storm and the condition of those on the island. To Cathy and all those who endured...you are in our prayers.

 

Dear Friends,

 

Many of you have written, sending us your well wishes, and we are pressed for time to answer you individually, so let us answer you as a group: we are safe. The eye of the storm seemed to have split and the wind direction stayed from the southeast for three to four hours at 200 mph and gusts to 240. It stayed hurricane force for what seemed like forever. What a mess! ! Cathy and Sparky (our African Grey Parrot) stayed at Sunset House. Her room on the upper balcony opened on the lee side and she and 21 others were able to go out on the balcony during part of it and watched as roofs flew off. When the sunset roof threatened to go, Sparky was a trooper as Cathy threw in spare batteries and his tupperware of food into his backpack cage with closed flaps as everyone fled from the upper rooms to the main lobby. Cats were kept in the boutique, dogs in the main lobby and Cathy and Sparky holed up in Adrien's office so that she could keep him calm enough to eat. Sparky did not say a word for five days, but is now is usual talkative self now that Herb is back.

 

Herb was on a trip to NY when Ivan formed and could not get back to Cayman until Thursday.

 

Two of our condos are rubble and will have to be bulldozed. Our other unit is still in flood water and deep muck, but our home has drained from flood water from the canal. The storm surge at least was gentle and while the water was high it was not rough on our side. Our roof held, although none of our trees did.

 

The island is in a state of emergency. We and almost a hundred more refugees are staying at Sunset House. We have set up a fenced perimeter which we guard at two hour shifts around the clock. We now have running water and electricity from Sunset House's generator. City power will reach us soon, as we are near the fuel depot.

 

Banks are supposed to open Monday, and grocery stores opened yesterday. It is wonderful how orderly it all is. People wait in long lines outside as they allow fifty carts at a time inside. Each cart may have a gallon of water and a loaf of bread and $50.00 worth of groceries at a time.

 

The government has not allowed outside reporters onto the island. We just heard that five from a major network were not allowed to leave the plane!!

 

Most of the larger law and accounting firms have moved their personell off island, but hopefully they will return in a month or so. I do not know when tourists will be allowed back on island.

 

We are well fed, thanks to the most incredible generosity of Adrien Briggs, owner of Sunset House. He is a hero, a hard worker and a fine man. He is putting Sunset House back together--no easy chore. There are roofs to mend, trees to upright, furniture to buy, and people to feed. Our other heros are George Chmil, the Seaharvest Restaurant owner at Sunset House and his staff for keeping the entire hotel staff well fed with three meals a day.

 

Cathy is about to go diving and see how the mermaid fared. We will keep you all up to date.

 

While the whole thing is a mess, we are well and good, and better than most, for which we are very thankful. We haave shared what we could, taken in neighbors and will lcointinue to support the rebuilding efforts.

 

We thank you for your concern and prayers and look forward to seeing you again in more normal times.

 

Check our web site for updates.

 

Lots of love,

Cathy, Herb and Sparky

 

Cathy Church & Herb Rafael

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here's an update I received from DiveTech & Cobalt Coast Resorts today -

 

Nancy here, and Divetech/Cobalt Coast will be attending DEMA this year as planned. Here's a short report on Divetech & Cobalt Coast Resort.

 

We survived the hurricane with minor damage only, shingles off, a few broken windows, a little water damage. All has been repaired already (with the exception of all singles being replaced), but all villas and the resort are dried in with weather shield, and our shingles are arriving on today's boat, so repairs will be completed here by the end of the week. The resort is at 100% occupancy right now, with relief workers, insurance adjusters and they have a waiting list so if anyone is looking short term, they can contact the resort.

 

We have running water for 2 hours each morning and afternoon, and expect full time water within one week. We have generators for running the kitchen which is open to the guests here for breakfast and lunch. We expect power to be restored in 2 weeks. We have just today got our phones all working including land lines, and ADSL is running, so once we catch up on emails, etc. we will be back in communications with everyone.

 

The boats have all been pulled from the mangroves and are on blocks. Our staff has started work on them today for repairs and repainting, etc. We expect to have them back in the water in 1 month.

 

We plan on opening November 15th as a dive resort, but Arie will continue to house folks between now and then. All rooms including the new Villas are operational and rentable.

 

The reefs out front look great, minimum damage to corals, some sponge damage (as usual in any Nor Wester), so we expect diving to be great on the North Wall again.

 

Inner Space, Digital Jam, Kids Sea Camp and all 2005 planned events are on-line and will happen as expected - or better!  

 

Thanks - Nancy @ Divetech

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