Governor Richards calls on nation to prepare for a forecasted busy 2010 hurricane season


Governor Franklyn Richards, Chairman of the Island’s Disaster Emergency Management Organization, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), is calling on the St. Maarten community to begin to prepare for the 2010 hurricane season and to have those plans in place by June 1st the start of the season.

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Forecasters have said that the season is going to be a busy one similar to the 2008 hurricane season which saw 16 named storms form of which eight became hurricanes. In October 2008, the island experienced Category 3 Hurricane Omar which caused considerable coastal damage.

Over the weekend weather forecasters have been closely watching a weather system north of the Dominican Republic and East of The Bahamas which may generate the season’s first system of interest. This system has the potential to become a "hybrid" storm with part tropical characteristics and part non-tropical.

Hybrid systems can be named as subtropical storms or depressions such as Subtropical Storm Andrea back in May 2007 that formed off the U.S. Southeast coast.

The forecasts for this season varies between 15 to 18 tropical storms of which 7-8 could become hurricanes and 4-5 of those could develop into a major category three or stronger.

Even though the official start of the season is about one week away, Governor Richards is urging residents to use this period to prepare themselves adequately by reviewing their annual hurricane season preparatory list.

"I am encouraging the nation to begin now to prepare, to mitigate the effects of a hurricane disaster. Let us all begin to prepare our homes, churches, non-governmental organizations and businesses. It makes no sense to make major preparations days or hours before a hurricane is forecasted to strike.

"Prepare early and avoid being caught unprepared. Preparedness starts with every one of us within society. As a community we must plan early and don’t wait until the last moment to rush to get things done because it can result in injury.

"Disaster preparedness is a multi-stakeholder process. Every entity has a role to play. Preparation for the hurricane season rests with all government agencies, and no better time than now to review operational plans. As a nation we are better prepared and more aware of the risks due to our past experiences," Governor Richards told the Government Information Service (GIS) on Sunday.

Some of the preparations that should be carried out now are the removal of debris from around homes and businesses; checking hurricane shutters and the roof of your home or business to make sure those windows can close securely and there are no weak spots in the roof.

Update your family hurricane disaster plan and restock your first aid kit and non-perishable supplies.

The 2010 Hurricane Season name list is: Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie and Walter.

The 2010 hurricane season officially starts on June 1 through November 30.