We’re a tough old flock, us islanders. Raised on salt water and sea grapes, breadkind and fish, we are hard to beat. Perhaps this is why we are the ones Hurricanes are sent to – the world hears about the East Coast getting by a little Cat 1 (a mere kitten) for months but a 100 square-mile island being swallowed by a monstrous Cat 4 (much closer to a tiger) gets a few minutes of news time. And that’s ok. Because we are ok. And, God willing, we always will be.
Category 1 hurricanes find us battening down and then going to the beach. The calm before the storm is usually the best beach day of the year and the beach is best enjoyed with mangoes in the sea, sweet sticky fruit met with salt. Our damage is usually minimal due to our construction and preparation. Informed by hundreds of years of experience we know our flood zones and our best defenses and are fortunate enough to be able to afford to employ our knowledge to our protection. June 1 is a big trip to the supermarket to start stocking up for the season. But when the storm has passed and we have had minimal damage, it is not uncommon to see adults and children alike bathing in the rain and riding wave runners and kayaks in the flooded streets.
Shipwrecks, pirates, battles and storms tattoo the tapestry of our history. We have learned to laugh the laugh of the children of sailors.
Funny thing is this little weather event caught me as the only member of my immediate family on island. This weekend my dad was in Cuba, my mom in Florida, and my brother in Jamaica. And of all weekends, it had to be this one. Funny enough, however, this little event affected us all. My mom’s flight back was delayed and both my brother and my dad were fighting through the same rain on islands to the north and to the south of where I am.
I became vaguely conscious of the rain in the early hours of the morning. It made sleep sweet and the Public Holiday (Discovery Day in Cayman) even more relaxing so I rolled over and snuggled deeper with a sleepy sigh of the blessed. And then I woke up.
My back yard was a lake. There was no walking of dogs this morning. The water would have near covered their little backs had we tried to step into the parking lot. My neighbours didn’t move their cars all day but, me being on the edge of the flood, I pulled out determined to get my day’s errands done.
Not too long into the day did I realize that this thing wasn’t going to stop. Errands were rushed and plans abandoned and at some point after noon, and after hours and hours of falling sheets of rain, I joined up with my mad family, the ones who never heed a warning to stay inside unless it is called a C.U.R.F.E.W., and drove around the island in a four-wheel drive.
Have a look at how the day went. Some of these are mine and some are borrowed.
- A cow pen off the side of the main road at Breadfruit Walk with at least four feet of water stained red by the dirt
For more flood photos, visit the Cayman27 site.