The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) said on Thursday that emergency plans should have already been formulated by residents who live along the country’s coastal areas or flood-prone environs.
If the aforementioned is not the case, ODM is urging (coastal, flood prone environs) residents to start making emergency evacuation plans now, ahead of the arrival of potential storms for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
The prediction for this year is that an above-normal season is most likely, comparable for the 2017 hurricane season which saw the development of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Three named-storm systems have already formed for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
Coastal residents living near beaches as well as businesses that are located along coastal areas, are advised to have plans in place for possible storm surge inundation in the event of a passing hurricane along the south coasts of the country.
ODM says, these plans should be in place year-round as a natural disaster can happen at any time. Families should take extra time to practice the plan. ODM urges families to use the opportunity now to review those plans to make sure you are ready!
Property damages that can be expected from hurricanes and coastal flooding is a threat to life.
Most coastal communities are vulnerable to one or more different kinds of flooding and related hazards: frequent flooding from storm surge and winds; and storm-caused erosion of bluffs and beaches.
Coastal areas of Sint Maarten are mostly found on the south side of the island and these are: Beacon Hill, vicinity of the Princess Juliana International Airport road connection to Beacon Hill, Simpson Bay beach, Pelican, and Philipsburg, the Great Bay beach (along the boardwalk), Point Blanche, and Guana Bay.
In the event of a passing 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 about where you and/or your family would stay to ride out the storm/hurricane.
One should not wait until the last moment to evacuate their home; this should be done before the hurricane arrives, a minimum of 24 hours prior to the arrival of the storm system.
First responders won’t be able to go out during hurricane force winds to execute a rescue if you are trapped and inundated by storm surge. Rising storm waters can also flood coastal roads; therefore, you should leave 24-hours before.
The most important link in the chain of preparation and response for coastal flooding is you. Take the necessary measures to prepare your family and home early, ODM advises.
Here is a check list if you have to leave your home before a hurricane strike due to anticipated high storm surge: turn off water and gas; have a radio and spare batteries; a first aid kit; flashlight; spare bedding; bottled water and canned food; house keys; prescription medicine; cash and credit cards; mobile phone and spare clothing; and strict observance of COVID-19 health and safety measures.
For general information about preparing prior to a storm/hurricane strike, visit the Government website: www.sintmaartengov.org/hurricane where you will be able to download your “Hurricane Season Readiness Guide’ and “Hurricane Tracking Chart.” Listen to the Government Radio station – 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during and after a hurricane. For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS): www.meteosxm.com
The storm names for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season are: Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor and Wanda.
Be prepared this hurricane season!