VROMI: Ministry Prepared to Enter Hurricane Season

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten —  Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), has been diligently prioritizing all hurricane preparedness responsibilities to ensure all resources are properly functioning, personnel is informed and prepared with the right tools and expertise, residents are informed and public spaces and infrastructure are in acceptable conditions.

Water levels Due to the extensive dry spell the island experienced over the last few months, much of the island’s wetlands have been drying up. The water levels in the ponds are currently 1 foot, approximately 30 centimeters below normal levels. Subsequently, this places the island and particularly low lying or flood prone areas at an advantage in the upcoming hurricane season, should the island experience any storms. Operations Manager, Edelmiro Jansen noted It would take substantial rainfall in order for the pond to reach its peaking levels at which point the floodgates can be opened and if necessary the pumps can be started.

“Our dry spell has cultivated a situation that allows us to be prepared for severe weather,” said Jansen.

Nonetheless, standard priorities are still been exercised to sustain preferred circumstances should severe weather conditions approach. The flood gates The floodgates are functioning well. The purpose of the floodgates is to alleviate flooding by lowering the water levels of the Fresh Pond through flowing into the Great Salt Pond. The floodgates when opened can drop water levels quite fast to prevent unnecessary flooding. However, if severe torrential rains occur and the Great Salt Pond is also expected to flood, the pumps will then be utilized to manage the situation.

Pumps

VROMI pump and flood gate (2)The pumps allow water flow from the Salt Pond into the Rolandus Kanaal and out into the Sea at the Bobby’s Marina Area to manage inland water levels and flooding. The hurricane pumps comprise of 3 pumps, 2 big and 1 small functioning pumps and all three pump stations are functioning. At present the department is finalizing the overhaul of its 3rd pump. Trenches/ water ways Ministry VROMI recently published a public tender for the continuous cleaning of trenches. The advice of the awarding of the cleaning of the trenches has been prepared. The contract terms propose 2 years with a possibility for extension of 1 year.

The contracts entail criteria upon which ongoing cleaning is stipulated by a strict schedule in order to maintain cleanliness at acceptable standards. Nonetheless the most critical trenches have been cleaned and upkeep is ongoing. It should also be noted that an advise has been prepared for the repairs of the damaged trench floor in belvedere. Great Bay Channel The Great Bay water mouth has been prepared for operation and can be opened within an hour upon request should such circumstances occur.

Normally such measures are only exercised during extreme torrential rains and hurricane activity. Pre-hurricane cleanup campaign with haulers In accordance with the contract of the district haulers, each entity has prepared a pre hurricane cleanup campaign with detailed schedules noting collection days, time and areas as well as the type of waste that can be disposed of. Most community councils and the neighborhood CPO’s are all involved in the active participation of their community cleanup and are in close contact with VROMI to ensure an acceptable condition is maintained.

Residents will be able to dispose of loose household appliances, old furniture, pieces of wood, tree branches (pruning of trees), zinc, or any pieces of garbage that can become airborne during a hurricane.

  • Parcel 1 which is all of the Dutch side over the hill from border to border has been cleaned 2 weeks ago.
  • Parcel 2 began its cleaning last week which is the Cul De Sac Basin and Little Bay.
  • Parcel 3 also started last week which is Dutch Quarter, Middle Region, Belvedere, and the Lower Princess Quarter area.
  • Parcel 4 which includes Philipsburg, Point Blanche, Guana Bay, and Great bay started 2 weeks ago.

All parcels are scheduled to be completed by the first week of August. Despite government initiatives, Ministry VROMI urges all persons to practice personal responsibility in cleaning up and maintaining acceptable conditions in their yards and extended surroundings in preparing for the hurricane season of their homes and businesses.

The public is urged to frequently visit the Ministry VROMI Facebook page for frequent updates and information https://www.facebook.com/MinistryVROMI as well as visit the government website http://www.sintmaartengov.org/government/VROMI/Pages/default.aspx