at Camana Bay – it’s in the planning and the design
Preparing for potential natural disasters and in particular hurricanes begins at Camana Bay first and foremost with “the thoughtful planning and engineering that went into the design of these buildings,” says Dart Realty’s Director of Leasing Rick Cobb.
All of the buildings of the town development have been designed to the Miami Dade Notice of Acceptance grading and are able to withstand Category 5 hurricanes. Cobb says that corporate tenants are very much interested in the grading.
“Many of the corporate tenants have worldwide protocols in place, where if they are in a zone susceptible to hurricanes or other natural disasters, they need to see that these ratings are in place and it actually acts as a first round of qualification in a lot of their decision making, when it comes to corporate relocation.”
Camana Bay is able to meet these standards and requirements in all of its buildings.
In a hurricane there are two major risks to the physical structure of Camana Bay in the form of rising water and windborne debris. Storm winds could blow off parts of the structure, such as a roof, and windborne debris could damage the buildings, including windows.
In preparing for hurricanes and other disaster tenants should make sure that, whatever standard a building is designed to, they understand what that actually means. At Camana Bay it means that as part of the Miami Dade Notice of Acceptance process all building components and fixtures, such as windows or doors, have been tested in a laboratory to make sure that they would, from a design, engineering and production standpoint, withstand the effects of a major storm event, says Cobb.
Both windows and window frames are as a result part of a hardened structure that is able to withstand Category 5 winds, even without the additional support of shutters.
“Of the many things that we are doing in preparing for such an event, putting up storm shutters is not one of them,” states Cobb.
As far as potential water damage is concerned, the majority of the buildings in the town centre have a finished ground floor that is 7.65ft above mean sea level. In some of the newly constructed blocks the ground floor is 10ft above sea level. All of the offices in the town centre are on the second floor, so that office occupants are therefore at a minimum level of 25ft, he says.
Planning and preparation
In addition to the design and construction of the buildings, much of the disaster preparedness and business continuity at Camana Bay is about actual planning, says Derek Haines, senior manager, Health, Safety, Environment & Security for Dart Cayman.
Preparing a business in advance is what companies can control and consists of ensuring the safety of the people as well as making sure that systems continue to be operational or can be recovered quickly.
What distinguishes Camana Bay is that, while elsewhere on the Islands it is often just an office building that landlords or tenants have to concern themselves with, the 500 acre development has different types of uses.
Comprehensive and careful planning has to reflect this mixed usage to ensure that there are no gaps.
“When I am speaking to a corporate tenant, I can demonstrate that we have specific preparedness plans in place,” says Cobb. These plans are individually adapted to residential tenants, corporate tenants and retailers and restaurants, which are typically situated on the ground level.
Having experienced several near misses in the past, some firms in Cayman are rethinking the often costly pre-hurricane evacuation of their personnel before a hurricane. The confidence in the structural integrity of the buildings at Camana Bay means that Dart does not have a policy of evacuating its staff pre-hurricane. Instead all personnel is familiarised with a hurricane preparedness plan that starts 96 hours before the expected impact of a storm.
“Ninety-six hours enables the employees to make sure that they are prepared. If you are prepared then the likelihood of any serious accident or injury is reduced considerably,” says Haines. It also helps employees to know that their own properties are as prepared as they can be and their family is safe, he points out.
Other levels of the hurricane plan take effect at 72 hours, 48 hours, 36 hours and 24 hours before a likely impact.
At 36 hours staff and residents at Camana Bay can bring their vehicles to the multi-storey car park and hand them over to security officers, who will park the cars to use as much space as possible. Once the event has passed the cars can be collected again by presenting ID and a copy of the waiver form that needs to be signed before the vehicle is stored.
“People are very happy about that because they have the security of knowing that they, their family, their property and their vehicle are OK,” says Haines.
Twenty-four hours before a major hurricane the first storm winds arrive and at 40mph sustained winds the plan aims to get everybody off the street.
During a hurricane tenants have the option to stay and use the buildings if they wish, says Haines. This has already happened in the past.
“If you have an Ivan-like Hurricane coming in the power companies would turn off the power and then we would switch to the generators,” he says. “There will be a short flicker and then the power is on again because the generators kick straight in. So there is no reason why you should not continue to operate.”
“Our emergency generator power has been specifically engineered to meet the load requirements of our offices tenants,” adds Cobb. “Operating run times are continuous subject to re-fuelling or fuel availability.”
The AC system will also continue to work, says Haines. “There are obviously certain limitations to it depending on how extensive the storm is, but it should work.”
Alternatively tenants are also offered a space in a refuge that is created by converting the multi-storey car park. As a hurricane draws closer Camana Bay maintenance staff will put up hurricane screens that are tested up to 200 miles per hour across all openings in the car park from the ground level up.
Haines explains: “The idea is that it is a refuge of last resort to keep people safe all the way through.”
“In the refuge we have 12 toilets, not Port-a-loo types, but proper toilets and a shower as well,” says Haines. The facility also provides cots, fans and dividers, for a bit of privacy, as well as cooking equipment. Although anybody who stays in the refuge is supposed to bring some supplies, the refuge will carry extra food and water.
While all people will stay on the first floor level, pets can be kept on the third floor.
Haines’ team uses flood barrier bladders, which are able to hold 1,000 gallons of water, instead of the messier and more time consuming sandbags, not only in front of buildings, but also as a back-up water supply.
“I am using six of them on the fourth floor of the car park and if the water goes, we switch to those bladders and they flush the toilets and showers.”
The refuge is governed by shelter rules and several Dart staff members have undertaken the government shelter warden course. While the refuge is a private shelter for Dart tenants, staff and their immediate families, several government services have struck an agreement with Dart to base some of their police, fire and medical personnel and equipment at Camana Bay during a hurricane.
“The refuge gives us the ability to provide a safe and secure area for medical and emergency vehicles, which ensures that they will be fully operational and ready to help if needed,” says Haines.
Camana Bay staff, which also includes a paramedic, has been trained in first aid. In addition to its own security staff, Dart has a contract with a local company to supply an extra 30 security officers 48 hours before a hurricane might impact, says Haines, who together with his team will man a command post in the refuge, backed by generators, communication equipment and internet access.
The refuge also employs a passport scanner to have a record of everybody in the building. This information is shared with government shelters on the Islands and aid organisations, so that relatives who are on the Islands or abroad can obtain information on the whereabouts of anybody in the shelter.
It all really comes down to training and a very well trained and experienced command team, says Haines. “All of us have experienced hurricanes and been in leadership positions during Ivan.”
The Camana Bay Data Centre
After having ensured that all employees and their families are safe, the protection of the IT asset is key to Camana Bay’s corporate tenants, explains Cobb, particularly to the legal and financial services firms.
Those tenants have the peace of mind that their IT infrastructure is located inside their premises, which have been designed to be very resilient in any type of natural disaster situation. In addition to that tenants have the option to use a second and very important aspect of the town development: the Camana Bay Data Centre.
The data centre is a hardened facility for the storage of servers and other IT equipment, which can be connected to a company’s live server environment. It offers companies the opportunity to store back-up servers in a disaster recovery environment that has dual or triple redundancy in the form of multi-level uninterruptible power supplies, 500 KVA back-up diesel generators, air condition and fire suppression and is therefore always operational, even during and after a natural disaster.
The data centre itself is a very tightly controlled area with CCTV cameras monitoring the space and limited access only for designated representatives from user companies. Users have to go through a registration process at the security desk of the command and control centre, where the data centre is based, and at the data centre’s own desk, both of which are manned 24/7. Visitors to the server room have to be escorted by a member of staff, who enables access through biometric controls. Inside all servers are stored in individual lockable cabinets.
While anyone can establish their own IT room inside their premises and a lot of companies choose Camana Bay for its safe environment, says Cobb, some corporate tenants require the extra level of security and the extra level of redundancy offered by the IT centre. Users may choose to co-locate their IT infrastructure inside of the Camana Bay Data Centre because the attempt to create the same level of security and redundancy inside their own premises would generally prove cost-prohibitive, he explains.
As such the use of the data centre comes as an added service and is not only attractive to Camana Bay tenants.
A second function of the 4,500 square foot data centre is that it houses business continuity or disaster recovery suites. Businesses subscribe to those as part of their natural disaster preparedness programme to ensure that they have an alternative office space for key staff during or after a catastrophic event.
There are a total of seven business continuity rooms, which seat four to nine people. Companies can sign up to rent whole room or just a seat with a locker with its own separate combination within one of the rooms.
The business suites are connected to the data centre, which is within walking distance and accessible.
“Inside the Camana Bay Data Centre, there are business continuity suites and shared amenities such as a boardroom, a kitchenette, washrooms and showers. All of these combined serve and protect key personnel and essential operations that keep business moving,” says Cobb.
Just as in all the other facilities in Camana Bay, people will be safe even during the strongest storm event. “I am extremely confident that anybody who is in Camana Bay is going to be OK,” says Haines. “If you are inside and you abide by the instructions then you are going to be alright.”