Johnson urges residents/businesses to be prepared as hurricane season starts

In highlighting the commencement of the 2019 hurricane season Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Stuart Johnson is calling on the business community especially tourism and hospitality related businesses to “be prepared.”

Johnson issued a press release on Sunday stating, “The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season started on June 1st. Already, the U.S. National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center has forecasted up to 15-named storms.”

This Johnson says means that the Caribbean can expect a very “active season and as such I am encouraging all business owners and operators and residents alike to prepare now if you haven’t already started doing so for the season.”

Where it concerns mitigation, preparedness, and contingency planning, work must swiftly begin as hurricanes are an inevitable part of doing business and living in this region.

Sint Maarten recently hosted the Wet/Hurricane Season Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) which was a collaborative effort between the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH) and the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS). MDS falls under the Ministry of Tourism & Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT).

The Forum addressed climate change, increasing climate variability as exemplified by extreme weather and climate events, such as droughts, floods, storms/hurricanes which continue to pose a significant risk for the Caribbean region and Sint Maarten in particular.

“Our destination had the most recent hurricane experience with Irma and Maria, and many lessons have been learnt which has allowed us over the past 20-months to strengthen the tourism sector’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from such a critical event impacting the tourism and hospitality sector.

“Not all tourism-related sector businesses have recovered. We still have a number of hotel properties that are in the process of planning and some are in the reconstruction phase. For the current operational businesses, hurricane season preparedness and response are essential, and therefore I appeal to the business community to start reviewing your hurricane plan and emergency procedures.

“Our tourism sector and supporting businesses are the vital economic foundations of our national economy, and its wellbeing must be assured where it concerns a quick recovery after the impact of a disaster. We have seen and experienced the physical and structural damage, injuries and loss of life.

“Preparedness is key this hurricane season in order to minimize loss of life and property which would also ensure a speedy recovery and resumption of business activity which is core to our continued economic recovery. Remember, it only takes one to make it a bad hurricane season. As a resilient people and nation, we have a lot to be thankful for, but we must be prepared.