POND ISLAND, (DCOMM) - Prime Minister William Marlin as Chairman of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), had his second meeting with the EOC where he was briefed about national preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Irma.
The country is now under a Hurricane Watch issued by the Meteorological Department of Sint Maarten (MDS). Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate on Tuesday evening, and residents and the business community are advised to complete preparations by Tuesday afternoon.
Hurricane Irma on Sunday afternoon was located over 700 miles from the Leeward Islands. It is a major Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour.
The Prime Minister would like to remind the Sint Maarten community that they should complete their Hurricane Emergency Preparedness plans; check the hurricane shutters/roof on your homes and businesses, and take stock of what needs to be done when the call is made to shutter the aforementioned.
Stay off the road network in order to allow clean-up crews from the Ministry of VROMI, contractors and emergency services to carry out their work unhindered.
Government offices will operate as normal on Monday.
School Closure Status:
Schools will be open on Monday.
Business Closure Status:
Businesses will operate as normal on Monday.
The EOC will meet on Monday to decide status of schools, businesses and government offices with respect to Tuesday.
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 make use of the shelter after the hurricane has passed must bring water and non-perishable food with them
Persons who don’t feel safe at home prior to the arrival of a hurricane, should make preparations to stay with family or friends before a hurricane is to hit the island.
The list of hurricane ten shelters for the season are: New Testament Baptist Church (Philipsburg), Sr. Marie Laurence School (Middle Region), Community Center (Dutch Quarter), Milton Peters College (South Reward), Rupert I. Maynard Youth Community Center (St. Peters);
Sint Maarten Academy (Cul de Sac), National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA, Cay Hill), Leonard Connor School (Cay Bay), Christian Fellowship Church (Cole Bay), Allan C. Halley Community Centre (Simpson Bay).
An additional shelter will be added to the list and this will be in Belvedere and will be announced on Monday.
During and after heavy rainfall, roads along hillsides experience rock falls and possible landslides. Residents living in these areas should exercise extreme caution.
Construction sites: These should be secured on Monday. Contractors and home builders should take action to secure construction sites for the protection of the public, property and surrounding areas.
Materials such as plywood, shingles, zinc, and other construction material could become flying missiles capable of impaling brick walls or anything in its way.
Construction debris can cause severe damage to property and lead to possible loss of life.
Ministry VROMI is busy making sure that civil work trenches by utility companies and other contractors are closed and secured prior to arrival of the hurricane.
Food Wholesalers & Warehouse Depots: Food wholesalers and warehouse depots are requested to execute plans to prepare and secure their properties. Every effort must be made to be prepared to take timely action in clearing storage areas properties of loose pallets and other materials in the event of a weather related threat.
Materials such as plywood, shipping pallets, food pallets, pieces of metal used to secure pallet shipments, can easily become flying missiles capable of impaling brick walls or anything in its way.
Coastal residents: Coastal residents are advised to have plans in place for possible storm surge.
Coastal areas of Sint Maarten are: Beacon Hill, vicinity of the Princess Juliana International Airport road connection to Beacon Hill, Simpson Bay, Pelican, and Philipsburg (along the boardwalk).
During the passing of a hurricane, homeowners should secure their possessions to upper levels of the structure. If you decide not to stay in your home, you should make the necessary arrangements before the passing of a hurricane on where you would stay to ride out the storm system.
One should not wait until the last moment to evacuate their home; this should be done before the hurricane arrives. First responders won’t be able to go out during hurricane force winds to execute a rescue. Rising storm waters can also flood coastal roads, therefore you should leave before.
Here is a check list if you have to leave your home before a hurricane strike due to high storm surge that is expected: turn off water and gas; have a radio and spare batteries; a first aid kit; flashlight; spare bedding; bottled water and tinned food; house keys; prescription medicine; cash and credit cards; mobile phone and spare clothing.
Ministry VROMI Continued Preparations:
According to the Ministry of VROMI, trenches have been cleared and additional trenches are being cleaned for the anticipated rainfall from Hurricane Irma.
Ministry VROMI has lowered water levels to below sea level in the Great Salt Pond. Due to this, a number of fish will die, but the lowering of water was necessary in order to ensure that surrounding homes and properties are protected in the event of a large amount of rainfall.
Two additional pumps will be brought online bringing the total to three. Storm water pumps will remain operational during the passing of the hurricane.
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.
Heavy equipment will be pre-positioned at different locations throughout the country in order to start clearing roadways once the hurricane passes.
The Government’s Disaster Management Organization continues to monitor closely the progress of major Hurricane Irma. Notices and information will be released to the media and via the Government Radio Station 107.9FM with respect to the national preparations and advisories for the people of Sint Maarten.
The country’s Disaster Management Organization is making all the necessary preparations. Approximately 90 Marines are to arrive on Monday. The Prime Minister requested the assistance as a precautionary measure.
The Red Cross Organizations of Curacao and Aruba are prepared to send personnel to the island to assist should this be required.