PHILIPSBURG:— Hurricanes are no fun. Believe me, I speak from personal experience and from having to go through one of the worst hurricanes this island has ever seen some 22 years ago.
On June 1, 1995, as the Atlantic Hurricane Season officially began, nobody could have predicted that St. Maarten would have been hit by a Category 4 monster called Luis.
No one could have stopped it either. And many of us were caught literally with our pants down. We were not prepared physically nor mentally to spend months without running water; without electricity, with schools closed, and supermarkets either looted or razed to the ground.
There was nothing romantic about eating dinner with candle light. There was nothing safe about using blue tarpaulins as roofs.
We have come a long way since those days of anguish and pain.
We have learned some valuable lessons about hurricane preparedness, but we have, maybe because of the lull in recent years, begun to slip slowly back into complacency and inaction.
The fact that we have not been hit by a major storm in several years does not mean we should let our guards down.
And no matter what the hurricane experts may forecast, all it takes is one bad storm to hit us or any of our neighboring Caribbean islands for us to feel the devastating effects.
This is why our motto should be like that of the Boys Scouts: to be prepared at all times.
The time to start planning is not June 1st when the hurricane season officially begins. In fact, recent history has shown that since 2014, we have been having storm systems forming in the Atlantic prior to June 1st.
This year, for example, the first named storm, Arlene, formed in April! The time for planning, therefore, should be before June 1st.
We tend to think that we have all the time in the world to get ready. The 48-hours advance warning of an approaching hurricane is not enough to stock up, fix our roofs, clear our yards of debris, etc. which are all part of the normal preparedness exercise.
The fact is, if you have not yet begun preparing for the hurricane season, you need to start right now.
All the government agencies charged with disaster preparedness are getting in high gear to make sure that, God forbid, should we have to go through any storm during this season, everything will be in place to mitigate its effects as much as possible.
But like charity, good preparedness begins at home. It is time to check your hurricane preparedness plan, starting with the roof of your house and or business to your personal and family hurricane kit as well as your insurance papers.
While government will do everything it can to assist in the case of disaster, government cannot do it alone.
My advice, therefore, is that we should all be prepared as best as we can.
I would also like to urge you to pay keen attention to announcements from the Office of Disaster Management and other government agencies and follow their instructions whenever these are issued for your own safety and the safety of others.
The first priority is to avoid any loss of lives. Have a safe hurricane season.
May God spare us from all devastating storms and other natural disasters.
William V. Marlin,
Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs.
Source: St. Martin News Network
Message of Prime Minister William Marlin on the start of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.