The British Cayman Island offices of Fortis have suffered considerable damage due to hurricane Ivan, one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the Caribbean region in recent years. Along with the structural damage, 48 employees and their families have lost their homes. The announcement from Fortis comes less than a week after the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association (CIFSA) said the financial industry on the islands is bouncing back.
It’s not only the financial industry on the island that is suffering. The damage to other property and infrastructures is considerable. A tidal wave has been flooding most of the island, bringing water levels up 15 to 20 feet and supplies of drinking water and power have been affected. Currently there is limited electricity and water available on Grand Cayman and phone connections are still difficult.
Flooding has caused the most damage at the offices of Fortis. Most of the damage was on the ground floors where no essential IT systems were kept, according to the company. There were no casualties amongst its 130 employees and Fortis has evacuated a majority of its staff and their families to Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles.
While the Cayman staff works in the Curaçao office, Fortis has provided medical attention, nurseries and temporary schooling. For the 48 families who lost their homes, Fortis says it is in the process of renting alternative housing at Cayman Islands. Some staff is temporarily housed at the Fortis offices. The houses that remained inhabitable have been provided with generators flown in from Canada.
On the business side, Fortis has set up a secured website to enable communication and exchange of information, pictures and messages among its employees at various locations. Staff in Curaçao is working in 24-hour shifts, while staff in Cayman is busy rebuilding and receiving new equipment via the airport. Fortis says it is uncertain as to when the infrastructure, power and telephone connections in the Cayman Islands will be fully restored.