The Ministry of General Affairs Fire Department/Office of Disaster Management (ODM), is appealing to the building sector, to have storm-ready plans in place for quick activation in the event the country is threatened by a weather system during the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.
Construction activities, trenching and excavation works, are taking place throughout the country, and at building and construction sites, materials and debris laying around could pose a threat in the event of a storm/hurricane threat to the nation.
Contractors and builders must have a plan in place to secure building sites before a storm/hurricane strike. This is also applicable to trenching and excavation contractors.
Building sites must be storm-ready within a 48-hour period before the arrival of a storm/hurricane.
Contractors, trench/excavation works and home builders during severe weather are responsible for securing building sites for the protection of the public, and property.
Materials such as plywood, shingles, zinc, and other construction materials could become flying missiles capable of impaling zinc roofs, windows, or anything in its way.
Construction debris can cause severe damage to property and lead to possible loss of life. Every construction site supervisor and/or foreman is advised to review their annual hurricane season plan with respect to what action they will be taking at their building site whether it’s a small, medium, or large house, or commercial enterprise project.
As a rule, all building and trench work sites should be kept organized and clean. Arrange timely pick up of trash (discarded old zinc, wood etc.) dumpsters, and only keep materials on site you will utilize during any given week especially bearing in mind that we are in the hurricane season and keep construction equipment secure.
All businesses should also see to it that their premises are kept clean of any debris as part of a preventative approach.
Any planned building/construction supply deliveries should be postponed if there is a storm/hurricane threat to the island within a 48-hour period.
When a tropical storm or hurricane watch is issued 48-hours before a system is forecast to hit, remove all scaffolding, and remove, or safely secure, all building materials and equipment; and secure cranes and other heavy equipment of this nature.
Sub-contractors should also be alerted to their responsibilities as well with respect to securing or removing their materials and equipment.
Stop job processes that will likely become damaged by the storm/hurricane, such as window installations, house wrap, or landscaping. Complete those tasks that will likely prevent damage, such as concrete work, closing in a house, or filling in foundation excavations.
Follow through with a quick inspection of your building site once a tropical storm/hurricane watch has been issued for the country. Do not wait until the last minute to inspect your job site, as you will need that time to go home and secure your own family dwelling or office/work yard. Employees will also need time to do their own personal final storm/hurricane ready preparations.
Once the storm/hurricane is over and the All Clear has been given by the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) headed by the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, you may return to the building site for damage assessment and inspection.
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 – SXMGOV 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 or visit their social media page Facebook.com/sxmweather