Some random collection of photos. Scolldown for a "before" picture of my parent's house and the surrounding neighborhood.
In the third collection, many of the photos with all of the sand on the road were taken near Bodden Town, apparently.
We have now talked with various friends in the Bodden Town area. It seems that the truth is somewhere in between the Caymanian government's understatement and the oversensationalist crap floating through the various forums and mailing lists that I have found.
At this point, there has been one confirmed casualty and one missing person. Damage across the island is incredible. whole sections of road or neighborhoods are just plain gone, but other areas are relatively unscathed. Keep in mind that "relatively unscathed" means "damaged, but nearly livable".
Power is gradually being restored, along with Internet service and running water. George Town will be the first to have services repaired because it is both the business capital of Cayman (and banking capital of the western world) and because the services all eminated out from the George Town area.
Reports that all of the beach front buildings in Bodden Town are greatly exaggerated. Our next door neighbor's house is even closer to the ocean than ours, but only suffered flooding of the first floor and some wind damage.
The same goes for East End. The road to East End is a mess and will take days to dig out and East End suffered incredible damage, but there were no deaths.
Reports of bodies floating in the streets are likely accurate. Like most rocky carribean islands, Cayman's graveyards are built on top of the surface and covered with stones and concrete slabs. When the massive storm surge washed through, it washed out the grave yards. Between the graves, the raw sewage and the dead animals, I cannot imagine that Cayman is a very pleasant smelling place about now. Thank goodness for prevailing winds.
The Bodden Town hurricane shelter was massively damaged during the storm. As it turns out, one of our friends-- the person who took us fishing on our first visit in the '60s-- was in charge of the Bodden Town shelter. There were 175 people in the shelter crammed into the safest room in the shelter. The room was only 12 foot by 12 foot, so everyone had to remain standing for 6 hours. Then the building started to rip apart around them, roof first. At the height of the storm, our friend had to lead all 175 people through 160+MPH sustained winds to a nearby elementary school.
Unfortunately, as the shelter was coming apart one person's chest was crushed by falling debris. This individual has sense died after treatment in the hospital was unsucessful.
I will certainly let Charlie know how much of a hero he is the next time I see him.
Bodden Town's beach front was pretty consistent. Long sandy beaches that rose up to a slight peak before dipping off to the road, typically 100 to 300 yards from the beach. There were houses on both sides of the road with Bodden Town proper located largely on the land side of the road. The land side of the road was typically either marshy or rocky with very little sand.
Notice the use of past tense in that paragraph. Everything has been inverted.
Apparently, the storm surge washed all of the sand off the beach. All of it. From my parent's house to the water is now bare rock; no trees, no sand, no vegetation, nothing. All of that sand went largely onto or across the road. Buddy-- another old friend and someone who has lived a pretty amazing life (he met the pope recently, for example)-- lives across the road from my parent's house. He had to shovel his way out of his house as he has 6 feet of sand around his house. The story is the same throughout Bodden Town. Sand is piled high and wide from the road and beyond while the beach is now barren.
Shorty's house-- another friend who is the caretaker of "the mansion"-- was really solidly built. Unfortunately, its foundation seemed to overlapped the beach and the underlying rocks of the hill between road and beach in such a fashion that when the beach washed out, his entire house has flipped up on its side or very close to it.
Finally, it turns out that our house was not actually reduced to rubble. The storm surge blew through the three sliding glass doors that faced the beach. The surge the pushed everything in the house-- stuff, furniture, parts of the wall-- against the back wall of the house. It also lifted the roof a bit and slammed it back down. However, the attic remained relatively intact. So, there is hope that our christmas tree ornaments can be recovered. They have sentamental value in that they are ornaments we have collected over nearly 40 years of visiting the island.
Hopefully, I will be receiving photos in the next few days. When I do, I'll dig through and put together a collection of "before and after" comparisons.
Below is a photo of the house taken a few years ago. The house on the far right is gone save for that small second level bit. The 2nd house from the right is my parent's house. The next house is our friend's house that survived the storm nicely. The road is just beyond the three houses.
Now, imagine that picture without any of the beachfront sand or vegetation. Push all that sand back to the road and beyond. The bluish roofline is the house of our friend that had to dig himself out. Certainly, the coral heads and turtle grass (dark areas near the beach) are likely gone, moved or just plain different.