St. Maarten News – The Office of Disaster Management that falls under the Ministry of General Affairs, has received many queries related to the change in policy regarding requesting a hurricane pass.
The change in policy is to improve safety on the public road network making it safe for clean-up crews and heavy equipment to easily move around; preventing persons and drivers from injury if there are unsafe areas and downed electricity cables; increase efficiency in the removal of hurricane debris when public roads have less traffic activity, the clean-up of the country moves faster and businesses can open sooner.
Based on past assessments from the police and the Vromi-ministry it has become noticeable of pass holders driving around as “disaster tourists” during the curfew rather than actually using the pass as prescribed.
More vehicles on the road also slow down emergency response services if only main roads are accessible and secondary roads are still to be cleaned-up.
Overall, if roads are clogged with traffic, business owners and others with a pass are unable to get to work or place of business until clean-up crews have cleared debris making areas accessible.
For the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season, a change in policy was recommended based on the aforementioned points in the national interests.
Based on evaluations, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has decided that traffic should be minimized during curfews, therefore regular business owners and hotels are no longer eligible for hurricane passes. By this measure, curfews will be focused on rescuing, helping and assisting people in need and the cleanup of the roads.
Due to curfews being as short as possible, business owners are able to assess possible damage outside of the curfews. Hotels are advised to post key personnel on-site during a curfew, for replacements will not be possible during a curfew.
Source: Today SXM Many questions about hurricane pass policy