Dean, the first hurricane of the Atlantic season whisked past the Cayman Islands before strengthening into a monstrous Category 5 storm as it headed toward Mexico. That was last Monday August 20th.
“So what?” you say, and “..anyway, where are the Cayman Islands?”. Well the Cayman Islands are located in the western Caribbean, east of Mexico, south of the USA, and north of South America. In other words in the middle of nowhere, and with a total land mass about 140 square kilometres, and the highest point being 77.79 metres about sea level, it wouldn’t be the safest place to sit out a dangerous hurricane.. all the more if you are due to give birth on the day the hurricane is expected to make landfall. Which is exactly the undesirable situation my second cousin Howard and his heavily pregnant wife, Sinead, both Cayman residents, found themselves in…
All sorts of uncertainties were talked about over the kitchen tables of relatives and friends back in Ireland… would there be a hurricane-day new born? If they had a son would they call it Dean? However, as news of Dean’s increasing strength poured back, anticipation was soon replaced by fear as thoughts visualised hospitals with no electricity and Sinead bravely fighting through the labour pains. Would Sinead be evacuated in time? Evacuated to where? Would she give birth on the plane? Would she be too heavily pregnant to be permitted to board the plane?
Howard’s employers, AON, being well used to dealing with hurricanes evacuated all staff to Montreal, Canada on Sunday 21st. It was a relief to learn they were safe… but what about the arrival of the little one?
22 August received the following message from first cousin Allen (Howard’s father) in response to my “has she… yet?” question….
“No not yet!
Family now in Montreal on 30th floor of Sheraton… Tom (Howard’s two year old son) thinks traffic down below are toys and wants some…. Jamaican nanny with them makes life lot easier but has no papers for US so cant fly back (to Cayman) via USA. Also other Jams same story in party!
Solution – party of 15 to depart Montreal non-stop to Cayman this morning (Wed) on personal jet of AON ceo! So.. infant still in place…Mum cool out…Dad beyond frantic… All the rest of us praying”.
Days pass, and still the little one has yet to make an entrance. Then on August 25, another phone message from Allen, and the news we’ve all being waiting for…
“Announcing arrival of baby Clara Marie Anne Byrne at 08.30 today August 25 Irish time, 02.30 Cayman time…. Mum and baby fine…. Howard B. (the father) shell-shocked…grandparents delighted…. Deo Gratias XXX”
What drama indeed, above all because Hurricane Dean was nothing to the nervousness and excitement little Clara generated, and judging from her first pic she remains blissfully unaware of all the hullabaloo .