As of this evening, I finally have heard news from the last major community on the Island that had yet to surface. Initial reports from East End indicate very heavy damage, but no casualties!
As well, we have now accounted for all but one of our friends. Everyone has survived the fury of Ivan unscathed. The one friend that remains unaccounted for could be anywhere across several islands in the caribbean. He has been around for a long, long time and has survived worse than Ivan both on land and at sea.
I remain optimistic.
The Caymanians, as always, are demonstrating their incredible resilience. Spirits are high, happiness abounds, and the focus is upon rebuilding as soon as possible.
Once I can get a hold of photos of areas that I have before photos from, I'll start posting some before/after photos.
A map of Grand Cayman.
Word is finally starting to trickle in from Bodden Town, the village where most of our friend's live and where my parent's house is located.
We have found most of our friends and they are unscathed physically. It was a true night of absolute terror. The hurricane shelter in Bodden Town was so badly damaged that the 175 people inside had to smash down a door and walk through 160+ MPH winds/rain/debris to the elementary school near the shelter. Apparently, the shelter's roof came off shortly thereafter.
There are still no reports of confirmed deaths. Unfortunately, I don't think that will remain true for much longer. The East End is one of the larger communities on the island. It has apparently been completely wiped out. Hopefully, the people managed to find shelter in some of the caves, but the storm surge could easily have made that impossible.
My parent's house is of an interesting design. It is really two structures with a carport in between. The front structure-- two bedrooms and a kitchen-- that faced the beach is completely destroyed. The storm surge lifted the roof while weakening the reinforced concrete block walls. When the roof came down the walls collapsed and the house is now a pile of rubble. However, the front structure did protect the back structure, which was also two bedrooms on either side of a kitchen. The back structure is apparently livable and my parent's have told our friends to use the shelter as needed to house those who no longer have houses.
The neighbor's house is in a similar state of total destruction. The only thing left standing, in good shape even, is the two bedrooms over the garage area. One of the bedrooms was where my wife and I stayed immediately after getting married.
Our friend's houses are likely completely swamped as they were set a little further back from the beach.
The Caymanian government is totally downplaying the incredible destruction that the island has experienced. According to the government, 25% to 50% of the houses were damaged and the island will have services restored by the end of the month. According to every first hand report I have found, every single building has suffered significant damage and all of the island's infrastructure-- electrical, sewage, water, roads-- is either catstrophically damaged or completely gone.
The Tortuga Rum Company has organized relief effort. Help is desperately needed. Most of the grocery stores were extremely badly damaged or completely destroyed.