Although damage assessments from Hurricane Paloma are still taking place on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, reports indicate that Cayman Brac fared worse, with homes, businesses and resorts in shambles.
Paloma was a Category 4 hurricane when it slammed into the two islands on Saturday.
Ernie Scott, Cayman Brac’s district commissioner, said that up to 95% of homes and buildings on the island were partially or totally destroyed. Also, trees were flattened, power lines downed and power poles snapped in two.
“We won’t be open to tourists for quite a while,” Scott said.
Cayman Brac’s main resorts are the 16-room Brac Caribbean Beach Village, the 40-room Brac Reef Beach Resort and the 37-room Carib Sands Beach Resort.
Little Cayman’s tourism infrastructure fared much better, reporting only minor damage to McCoy’s Diving Lodge. A spokesman said that most properties could reopen in a week, once power is restored.
Cayman Brac’s 1,822 residents were in shelters during the storm as were the 115 residents on Little Cayman. Shelters sustained damage from 140 mph wind gusts, but there were no fatalities or injuries.
When the runway at Gerard Smith Airport on Cayman Brac was cleared of debris, Cayman Airways began operating emergency flights from Grand Cayman, carrying supplies, relief crews, emergency workers and government officials. Cayman Brac lies approximately 75 miles northeast of Grand Cayman.
The airline also is flying residents free of charge to Grand Cayman while the long period of cleanup and recovery takes place.
Many hotels and condominium developments on Grand Cayman are charging very low room rates for those displaced by Paloma.