It is integral that you decide and plan ahead of time where you will be staying before the onset of a hurricane. If your home is durable and has withstood previous natural disasters, then it is probably the best place to stay. It is also good if your home is on stilts, on high-lying ground, away from the ocean or double-storied - that way you can go upstairs to be safe. As the option of evacuating the islands in the event of a storm is not readily available, we highly recommend that you research the available hurricane shelters on-Island.
If you decide that it is safe to stay in your home, ask your neighbours about the vulnerability of your neighbourhood in the case of flooding and wave threats. Also find the safest areas in your house to shelter and potential escape routes.
If you do not think your house is a suitable place to stay during a storm, take shelter in a safe and sturdy home/building. This can be at a friend's, your workplace (if available), or one of the many public shelters on-Island.
Usually, the hurricane shelters can accommodate eight-percent of Cayman's population, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, social-distancing protocols limit the number of people who can gather inside shelters. Premier Alden McLaughlin has urged residents to consider looking at other sheltering options in the event of a storm hitting the island anytime soon.
Below is a list of possible hurricane shelters for 2020. The Cayman Islands Government is actively seeking additional shelter capacity and will provide an updated list of shelters in due course.
- John Gray High School Gymnasium (Formerly George Hicks High School) (PETS)
- George Town Primary School Assembly Hall
- Red Cross Building on Huldah Avenue
- University College of the Cayman Islands Hall
- Prospect Primary School (EMC)
- John A. Cumber Primary School Assembly Hall (EMC)
- John Gray Memorial Church Hall
- John A. Cumber Primary School (Part Classrooms)
- William Allen McClaughlin Civic Centre (EMC)
- Gun Bay Community Hall
- Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre (EMC)
- Clifton Hunter High School Gymnasium (EMC) (PETS)
- Breakers Community Hall
- Bodden Town Primary School Multipurpose Hall (EMC)
- Savannah Primary School Assembly Hall (EMC)
- Aston Rutty Centre (EMC)
- West End Primary School
- Day Care Centre
- Multi-Purpose Hall (Sports Complex)
- Animal Shelter (The Arc)
- Public Works Department Building (EMC)
Currently there are only two pet-friendly shelters on Grand Cayman and nine Emergency Medical Centres (EMC) across the Cayman Islands. Please keep in mind that Cayman's hurricane shelters should be considered a last resort, especially if you have your own comfortable home. Hurricane shelters in Cayman can get very crowded with basic conditions.
You should make sure you take a shelter kit with enough supplies for a number of days, including bedding, changes of clothes, a car charger for your phone case and more. For more information and a list of recommended items to bring to a shelter, see the Cayman Prepared website. The hurricane shelters ask that you wear a protective mask, and bring enough supplies for you and your family. Normally not prohibited are pets, alcohol, smoking, heavy/excess luggage, cots or weaponry.
Masks and personal protective equipment will also be provided for everyone at the shelters.
Volunteer Shelter Managers are always needed. If you are interested in becoming one or for more information, contact Tina Ebanks or Melissa Hall at the Department of Children and Family Services or call (345) 949 0290.
*EMC= Emergency Medical Centre
Note: COVID-19-positive patients will be housed in separate shelter locations. Shelters will also be equipped with enough PPE (personal protective equipment) for anyone entering a shelter for a hurricane.