Message by the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten Hon. Leona Romeo-Marlin
To the people of Sint Maarten and guests visiting our shores, today June 1st marks the official start of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season. However, the first named storm of the season, Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto, formed late last week and made landfall on Monday in the U.S. State of Florida. This represents a reminder of how important it is to be PREPARED!
At the beginning of every season, every household and business, needs to prepare for the season. This is an individual responsibility.
Everyone in every household needs to know how to be storm-ready. Every business owner/manager should also have an exercise for their employees about being storm-ready, and the month of June is a good time to do so.
Last year, our country experienced one of the worst hurricane seasons ever in recent memory when Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused devastation across the country. No community was left untouched and everyone has a story to tell about their experiences.
It’s been 9 months later and our country is still recovering from the devastation that was caused. Together, much has been accomplished by Government, the business sector and individuals but so much more is still left to be done. Every household and business organization needs to review their hurricane disaster preparedness plans today.
I urge you NOT to wait until a hurricane is knocking at our door. Do NOT wait for the last moment to run to the shop to buy batteries, canned goods, diapers, etc. Do so well before the peak of the hurricane season because, it is beneficial to you and your family that you prepare early!
We have had the experience for many years now, of what needs to be done to prepare for the annual hurricane season.
As a community we need to take every precautionary measure to minimize the impact of damage and destruction that storms or hurricanes wreak.
As Prime Minister, I am ultimately responsible for Disaster Management on the island, a responsibility that I take seriously. As such, I have been meeting with our disaster management system the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) over the past weeks in meetings and at the recently held Disaster Preparedness Conference in order to prepare the country to the best of our abilities for any eventualities that may develop. Each Emergency Support Function (ESF) Group in the EOC is busy amending their Disaster Plans to reflect a new approach based on lessons learnt from the experience of Hurricane Irma and Maria.
Having said this, a very important part of this process is for the key external stakeholders in our community for example NGO’s and Community Councils, to have their own plans in place and ready to be implemented when the time comes.
With everybody taking their responsibility serious, the damage across the country can be mitigated and limited, leading to a speedier recovery and reopening of the country and return to normalcy.
Review and restock your disaster supply kit with food, medication, drinking water, and other essentials; secure and safe guard your homes and places of business; trim overhanging trees near buildings; check leaking roofs; install storm shutters; review the structure of your roof and strengthen it; repair windows and doors if necessary.
If you live along the beach or in flood prone areas make plans to move before the storm hits to stay with family, friends or make alternative housing arrangements. Make plans for elderly family members who live alone as well as those family members who are physically challenged. Remember, preparing early is the key!
I would also like to inform you that the relevant authorities are busy with the review and preparation of the proposed shelters. Therefore, within short, the shelter list for 2018 will be published for your awareness.
The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season without a doubt already has members of our communities nervous, because many homes and businesses that sustained damage from the hurricanes of September 2017 may not be finalized with their repairs. To you I say keep the rebuilding efforts going and if any severe weather is approaching please take the necessary precautions as advised for construction sites. The removal of cranes, loose lying lumber and debris should be your first priority as we know flying debris during a hurricane causes unnecessary damage to surrounding properties.
I know everyone is working with the goal of having their homes and businesses completed before the peak months of the hurricane season arrives in August, September and October. Please work diligently with a plan and you will be able to complete your goals and objectives.
There are also several non-Governmental and Governmental programs underway for home/roof repairs of seniors and other vulnerable groups within our communities. We are all working with the same goals in mind to complete these works before the peak of the season.
As a community, let us come together and collectively prepare Sint Maarten for this season. I call on Civic organizations, community councils and other non-governmental organizations, to continue to contribute in preparing our communities to be storm-ready. A collective effort will make a huge difference!
Remember it only takes one, BE PREPARED!
Prime Minister of Sint Maarten Hon. Leona Romeo-Marlin