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 » 2006 Forecast  | Saffir-Simpson scale  |  Your stories

Caymans rebuilding after Ivan

By Alexandra Mackworth-Gee for CNN

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An aerial view shows damage to building on Grand Cayman Island.
CATEGORY 5 HURRICANES
U.S. landfalls:
- Unnamed storm, 1935, Florida
- Camille, 1969, Mississippi
- Andrew, 1992, Florida
Source: NOAA
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Caribbean Area
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Hurricane Ivan

(CNN) -- Two weeks ago, Hurricane Ivan left behind a trail of carnage in the Cayman Islands not seen for more than 70 years.

But since the "all clear" signal was raised this week, efforts have quickly turned from relief to rebuilding.

The Cayman Islands government is in the process of establishing an independent trust to accept monetary donations for relief and reconstruction following Hurricane Ivan.

The trust -- to be known as "The Cayman Islands National Recovery Fund" -- and will benefit those who were injured, rendered homeless, destitute or otherwise adversely affected by the hurricane.

"Hurricane Ivan brought conditions that none of us could have imagined -- they seemed unending," said Deputy Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks, who also helped lead the National Hurricane Committee.

"Over the past two weeks, much has been accomplished. We have proved that there is life yet within our bruised, broken and raggedy-looking body," he said.

"We will recover. Our beautiful islands will again be beautiful because we will not stop working until they are."

The largest of the three islands -- Grand Cayman -- suffered the most damage from Ivan, the most destructive hurricane since 1932, when 109 people died.

Travel restrictions for visitors to Grand Cayman remain in force, but Brac and Little Cayman are open for business.

"While Grand Cayman is busy cleaning up and rebuilding, both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are busy welcoming visitors and accommodating re-located residents for much needed rest and relaxation," said acting Director of Tourism, Pilar Bush.

Visitors are allowed to travel in transit through Grand Cayman allowing them to enter the Brac and Little Cayman only at this time.

"We are all pleased that the government of the Cayman Islands and the Immigration Department have lifted travel restrictions to the Sister Islands as we are ready to receive guests," said Moses Kirkconnell, director of marketing for Cayman Airways.

W. McKeeva Bush, the government leader and tourism minister, said after meeting with local tourism industry representatives that Grand Cayman would begin welcoming cruise ships and hotel visitors in four to six weeks.

On Grand Cayman, a 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew remains in place.

Meanwhile, utilities are gradually being restored.

The water authority has now reconnected 56 per cent of its customers, while the government is considering allocating financial assistance of up to CI$5,000 (US$6,250) per household to help with house repair.

New transformers will be shipped on Saturday and conductors are arriving to mend damaged power lines.

Cable and Wireless and AT&T are working towards giving the island full telecommunications coverage.

The government also has asked for military volunteers from neighboring Bermuda to help with restoring essential services.

"The main objective of deployment will be to help restore normal services by clearing roads, helping with the rehabilitation of housing and clearing areas surrounding key public buildings," said Bermuda Governor John Vereker.

"The presence of a uniformed and disciplined body should also provide some reassurance of action for the people who are suffering significant hardship," he said.

"The Bermuda Regiment will not be required to support the civil authority in the maintenance of law and order and they will be deployed without weapons."


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