The booming alternative funds industry, along with the rest of the population of the Cayman Islands, breathed a sigh of relief on Monday after Hurricane Dean veered southward, skirting the islands by more than 100 miles.

The Category Four hurricane has caused devastation and damage across a swathe of the Caribbean including Martinique, St. Lucia and Jamaica, and up to Sunday morning there was a possibility that it might pass directly over Grand Cayman.

But the islands' governor, Stuart Jack, was able to report on Monday morning that although Grand Cayman was being rocked by winds of up to 60 mph, Hurricane Dean was passing around 115 miles to the southeast.

As of 10 am, there were no reports of serious damage across Grand Cayman, although some flooding in low-lying coastal areas was expected as a result of up to eight inches of rain and waves as high as 16 feet battering the coast.

Tension in the islands had been high as the hurricane approached because of the impact if Hurricane Ivan, which caused widespread devastation in September 2004, forcing many financial services firms to move business functions temporarily to other jurisdictions.

Cayman firms kept their offices closed on Monday after making arrangements to provide continuity through the storm. For example, partners and associates at law firm Walkers were expecting to remain accessible to client by Blackberry, with partners in other jurisdictions placed on standby in the event of a communications breakdown.

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