The Fire Department & Disaster Management are currently in the process of removing the old siren warning system that was established many years ago in different flood-prone communities.
The removal process entails the remnants of the siren warning system and poles that they were attached too.
The Fire Department & Disaster Management have presented a project proposal to the Trust Fund that is managed by the World Bank for a new resilient community siren warning system. Discussions are still taking place with respect to which option is best suited for the country.
The first siren warning system was installed 13-years ago (2006) in response to a cloud burst event in 2005 which resulted in flashfloods in the Cul de Sac Basin that led to two people losing their lives due to this natural phenomenon.
The first phase of the system of seven warning sirens was installed in flood prone areas: Dutch Quarter, Cul de Sac Basin, Cole Bay, Madame Estate and Philipsburg.
It was the intention to install a country-wide siren warning system, but after an assessment of the first phase, the evaluation revealed that the system was susceptible to corrosion and lightning strikes.
The quality of the alert sounds was also not up to par due to the topography and trade winds, and therefore it was decided not to continue with this type of system, and to look into alternatives. The warning sirens that were still operational were maintained for as long it was feasible.
Alternatives to the existing old system have been found, and these come at a large costs and funding is being sought from the post-Irma Trust Fund.
The project proposal includes a cell broadcast system and the replacement of the warning sirens. In the meantime, the Fire Department & Disaster Management Office will be launching within short a disaster app that the public can install on their cellphones where they will be able to view and read the latest official information and weather reports from official Government sources such as the Department of Communication (DCOMM) and the Meteorological Department of Sint Maarten (MDS).