Prime Minister William Marlin on Friday afternoon in the conference room of the Government Administration Building, chaired his first Emergency Operations Center (EOC) meeting to get a briefing with respect to the country’s preparations in the event Hurricane Irma was to pose a direct threat to the country.
Hurricane Irma on Friday was located over 1300 miles from the Leeward Islands. It has been described as a very dangerous Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.
At this point in time Irma does not pose a direct threat to Sint Maarten. Due to the fact that the hurricane is a major system, the Prime Minister decided on Friday to request military assistance from the Dutch Ministry of Defense as a precautionary measure.
This assistance calls for additional manpower of up to 40 Marines that would be deployed from barracks on either Curacao or Aruba.
Prime Minister Marlin told those present that it was key to prepare early and not wait until the hurricane was knocking at the door to start preparations.
The Prime Minister reminds the Sint Maarten community that they should review their Hurricane Emergency Preparedness Plans over the weekend, check their hurricane shutters/roof on their homes and businesses, and take stock of what needs to be done should the call come to shutter the aforementioned.
The Government’s Disaster Management Organization continues to monitor closely the progress of major Hurricane Irma and make preparations in the event the system poses a direct threat.
Ministry VROMI is currently lowering water levels to below sea level in the Great Salt Pond. The objective is to ensure that if there are a large amount of rainfall, the pond’s holding capacity will be sufficient to retain the water thereby avoiding potential flooding of nearby areas.
Assessments have been carried out with respect to Hurricane Shelters, the Landfill, as well as other relevant preparations underway by government agencies.
The goal is to have shelters in every district and the EOC is working to expand the number of shelters. Shelters should only be used as a last resort as they will only open after a hurricane has passed, and will be open for only 48-hours.
Persons who don’t feel safe at home prior to the arrival of a hurricane, should make preparations to go stay with family or friends before a hurricane is to hit the island.
Additional meetings are planned for Sunday morning (COPI Disaster Management Organization Operational) and in the afternoon the Prime Minister will chair his second EOC meeting where a statement will be made with respect to preparations for Monday, September 4th.
Attending the EOC meeting were representatives of the Fire Department/Office of Disaster Management, Police, Marines, Meteorological Services of St. Maarten, Department of Communication (DCOMM), Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Management, Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Collective Prevention Services, Public Health, Ambulance Services, NV GEBE, Director of the Cabinet of the Governor, and the Secretary General of the Ministry of General Affairs.
The remaining storm names for the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season are: Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney.
The 2017 hurricane season started on June 1 and runs through November 30.