Boasman to meet Met Office, ODM about warning system

POND ISLAND–Caretaker Prime Minister Rafael Boasman will place the country’s disaster warning system under review. He will meet with Office of Disaster Management (ODM) and Meteorological Department of St. Maarten representatives.

This comes after a tsunami alert was issued by the United States Pacific Tsunami Warning Center on Tuesday night. It said a damaging tsunami wave could impact the coasts of Central American nations, Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. The warning was linked to a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Honduras.
No tsunami was generated. However, news of the warning created a sense of uneasiness in the local community in the absence of an official statement from any Government agency.
Boasman said he wanted to review “our preparedness” and how authorities will be able to address the public about warnings. On the side of the public, he urged residents to always “ensure it is an official warning” before acting.
In May 2017, Disaster Management Section Head Paul Martens had expressed concern over Government’s delay in paying for a new early-warning system, despite the latter already giving approval for the purchases. The Daily Herald understands that those payments have been made, but the damage caused by Hurricane Irma set the introduction of the new system back significantly.
First used successfully in Anguilla within the European Union (EU)-funded Regional Risk Reduction Initiative R3I managed by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Barbados, the new system incorporates a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) server that can generate multi-hazard warning messages through different media.
It can operate sirens, send short message service (SMS) notes, and interrupt radio and TV signals with a message to alert the population. Additional Radio Interrupt equipment is also part of the warning package.
Despite the initial payment setbacks, promotion literature on the early warning system has been produced in five languages: Dutch, English, French, Papiamentu and Spanish.
Sirens were to be used again for signal and voice message despite their flaws, but temporarily as part of a much broader method of alerting the population using today’s technology. The drawback with sirens, Martens continued, is that they do not reach everyone and do not serve the purpose if the people do not know what to do.
However, the sirens were destroyed by Irma, so the new system will have to be expanded with hardware and via other means.

Source: The Daily Herald