St. Peters — The ensuing smoke from the fire on the landfill created after hurricane Irma prompted the evacuation of the residents of Pond Island, schools and the persons staying in the temporary shelters, and the Government Building. The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development, & Labor coordinated the evacuation of the thirty-three (33) persons staying at the temporary shelters in the Festival Village and the Little League Ball Park.
These persons were safely transported to the Community Center in St. Peters. Shelter services such as the preparation of meals and security are in place at the location. The relocation is temporary to safeguard the inhabitants from any health hazards. They will be relocated when the smoke dissipates from the immediately affected area. Some persons in the shelter were able to stay with family and/or friends. Any persons seeking more information can contact VSA Staff Bureau located in the Government Building on Soualiga Rd 1, Pond Island.
The Minister of Public Health, Social Development, & Labor commends and thanks the civil servants and emergency personnel that executed the coordination of the relocation for their continued dedication to the people of St. Maarten. Minister Lee visited the Community Center the following day (Tuesday February 7, 2018). While there, the Minister viewed the temporary accommodations made for persons staying there. “The Ministry of VSA is working diligently to provide the persons in the shelter with a location that is more suitable for the needs of the people staying there. Their safety and well-being is of utmost importance. Many are working tirelessly and I thank all involved for their commitment,” said Minister Lee. The minister also noticed of the condition of the playground and the basketball court located next the shelter and initiated efforts to remove the standing water that serves as a breeding ground for mosquitos. Discussions also included the repair / restoration of the playground, basketball court, and added security for the safety of the children that play there.
Collective Prevention Services (CPS) is reminding the public of the health impacts of smoke inhalation. The magnitude of the health impacts depend on the concentration and duration of exposure. Short-term exposure (at high levels) can cause nose, throat and eye irritation, and exacerbate pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. Groups that are particularly susceptible to the adverse respiratory and cardiovascular effects of exposure are children and the elderly. Persons with underlying cardiovascular disease (hypertension, diabetes, ischaemic heart disease), respiratory disease, and pregnant women. It is important to take steps to protect yours and your family’s health. Especially if you are pregnant, elderly, or have children. These steps include keeping indoor air clean by closing windows and doors, using fans and / or air conditioners set on recirculate where possible for air circulation and to guard against the heat, avoid time spent outdoors in the affected area, monitoring indoor air quality. Other symptoms of smoke exposure include wheezing, shortness of breath, burning eyes, and headache. Please limit your exposure to smoky air and contact your health care provider if you have heart or lung problems. Persons should avoid the affected area until the smoke has cleared.