Tropical Storm Grace was anything but graceful toward the trees of Camana Bay.
As its nearly hurricane-force sustained winds swept across Grand Cayman, Grace left trails of destruction, damage and dismay on the flora in the community.
While we at Dart are grateful that no significant damage was done to our buildings and structures, the Camana Bay landscaping sustained substantial damage.
On the afternoon of 18 August, after the government issued the "all-clear," a dismal scene was discovered around the Camana Bay Town Center — numerous trees had been broken, battered or blown over.
After the initial shock waned, a breath of determination stirred an ad hoc landscape recovery team into motion. A collaboration of Camana Bay property managers, Dart executives, landscape architecture and design team members, and Dart’s nursery staff assembled to assess damages and plan strategies for coming weeks. With the help of experienced landscape contractors, the clean-up efforts commenced that very day.
It was decided that the priority was ensuring public safety by clearing fallen trees and debris from roads and pedestrian walkways and securing infrastructure from possible further damage. This unfortunately involved removing several trees that were damaged beyond recovery.
By the end of the following day, all the roadways and entrances in the Town Centre and the Esterley Tibbetts Highway had been cleared to allow for safe vehicle passage. The parking lot for Foster's and Blackbeard's was also safe and operational, and businesses throughout the Town Centre reopened.
However, the work was just beginning. Several landscape crews led by Dart’s landscape recovery team continued to work tirelessly to clear away potentially dangerous debris in walkways and courtyards. Piece by piece, some areas started to look normal again.
The next phase of the recovery approach involved salvaging and reviving as many damaged trees and plants as possible. By this time, the landscape recovery team realised that this rescue mission would be a marathon effort. They had also accepted that, due to the extent of damage, there would be many casualties.
One happy outcome was in the parking lot closest to Camana Bay Cinema, where 25 of the iconic sausage trees had been uprooted by the storm. After an assessment, Dart’s horticulture team agreed that these trees should not be replanted in their original positions. Through swift reaction and collaboration, however, most of the trees will be salvaged and carefully transplanted to thrive in new locations.
The landscape recovery team estimates that the landscape recovery will take up to eight weeks, after which the process of replacing departed trees will begin. In the meantime, there is much to be grateful for, as life continues to blossom at Camana Bay.
This article appears in print in the September 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times, written by Francois Sevenster.