Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina Stresses Importance of Robust Disaster Management in Sint Maarten

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L to R Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Gracita Arrindell, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications Grisha Heyliger Marten, Minister of Finance Marinka Gumbs, Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina, Fire ChiefNational Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson, and Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Veronica Jansen Webster.​
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — In a meeting held today, Chief of the Fire Department, Clive Richardson, representing the Office of Disaster Management (ODM), presented a plan for disaster preparedness in Sint Maarten to the Council of Ministers (CoM). This comes as our country should focus on strengthening its resilience against natural and man-made calamities.
The presentation provided an extensive overview of the disaster types that could affect our country and delved into the intricate legislative framework that governs disaster management. Emphasis was placed on the ongoing adjustments to the National Ordinance on Disaster Management to align with evolving disaster scenarios.
In a detailed account, the presentation outlined the Prime Minister’s critical role in disaster communications, bridging the CoM with real-time updates and strategic decisions.
Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina reflecting on today’s session, stated, “As we fortify our national disaster management framework, it’s paramount that we maintain crystal-clear lines of communication and well-defined roles. Every minute counts in a disaster, and our ability to act swiftly and cohesively is our greatest asset.”
The structure of disaster management in Sint Maarten was also elaborated, highlighting the roles of the 10 Emergency Support Function (ESF) groups ranging from Water & Energy to Governmental Affairs, each linked to specific ministerial responsibilities before and after disasters strike.
Chief Richardson emphasized the Prime Minister’s overarching responsibilities as the Chair of the Emergency Operating Center (EOC), pointing out his pivotal role in coordinating communications across various government and Kingdom levels during emergencies.
The collaboration across borders and islands was also a focal point, with ongoing initiatives to solidify partnerships through Memorandums of Understanding (MOU), particularly with neighboring island authorities.
The readiness of Sint Maarten is further being bolstered through proactive training and preparedness exercises, including an upcoming tabletop exercise with the Marines to refine protocols for their integration during emergencies.
Dr. Mercelina added in support of colleague minister of TEATT (Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication), “Our commitment to safeguarding our community is unwavering. The establishment of an emergency fund is paramount, specifically earmarked for disaster scenarios, underscores our resolve to ensure that resources are available when most needed.”
The session concluded with a discussion on the necessity of advanced tools and resources to ensure seamless communication during any disaster, highlighting the strategic foresight of Sint Maarten’s leadership in disaster management.
Today’s presentation reaffirms the government’s commitment to not only preparing for disasters but also ensuring a resilient recovery and safeguarding the future of Sint Maarten.