My Fellow St. Maarteners,
Today, June 1st marks the start of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Forecasters have predicted that it will be an above-average and active one. The Atlantic hurricane season is one we face yearly from June 1st until November 31st with the peak of the season being from August to October. Our country sits in a disaster-prone hurricane risk area, therefore we must ensure that we are all prepared. This is a call to action to put things into motion.
On Wednesday, May 25th, I chaired the first preparedness meeting of the Emergency Operations Center where all 10 Emergency Support Function coordinators rendered updates on their plans in place to safeguard our nation in the event of a storm. The season is already off to an early start with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms. We are very much aware of what devastation a powerful hurricane can cause after our most recent experience with Irma nearly five years ago from which we are still recovering. As such, I am glad that over the past five years we are better prepared with the completion of 11 hurricane shelters.
However, hurricane preparation is not only a prerogative of Government but an individual, family and business responsibility. As St. Maarten continues through the ongoing endemic, we continue to encourage being as strict as possible with hygiene such as hand washing, optional mask usage and social distancing when possible in public spaces. Visit the hardware store and other entities such as insurance companies to ensure that you’ve made sufficient preparations before the peak months of the season.
During your preparations for the hurricane season, prepare a Disaster Kit that is able to support members of your household for a minimum of seven days after the hurricane has passed. Ensure to include hand sanitizer, bar or liquid soap; two cloth face coverings for each person; disinfecting wipes, or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces. Additional necessities to include are water, batteries, flashlight, radio, medicine, non-perishable foods and a baby supply kit for parents with infants or young children. For those whose homes are not yet storm or hurricane ready, you should make alternative housing arrangements to stay at family or friends.
Do not become complacent this hurricane season. Follow the preparedness messages and advice on how to prepare for a storm or hurricane and learn more about hurricane hazards by visiting www.sintmaartengov.org/hurricane where you will be able to download your “Hurricane Season Readiness Guide’ and “Hurricane Tracking Chart.” Careful preparation and remaining vigilant throughout the season make a huge difference. Stay informed and follow official government information channels for instructions.
Remember, it only takes one to make it a bad hurricane season. I appeal to everyone including the business community, to make sure you are ready for the season. Start preparing from now, and remember that though we are a resilient nation, we must, individually and collectively strengthen our preparedness against any disaster or crisis.
‘Hope, Faith and Love…” from 1 Cor.13, is always quoted at weddings and other similar occasions, I would like to use it here to encourage all to have Hope, that we will be spared, Faith that we will be able to sustain whatever comes, and because of Love for self, family and community, we will do all we can to be prepared for this and all possible disasters.
May we have a safe 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.
Thank you, and May God Bless our St. Maarten Land.