POND ISLAND–Government offices, schools and businesses are to operate as normal today, Monday. Residents and businesses are urged by Prime Minister William Marlin to complete their storm preparations by Tuesday afternoon as Hurricane Irma continues to make its way to the local area.
The country was put under a hurricane watch by the Meteorological Department as of 5:00pm Sunday. Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate on Tuesday evening.
Marlin hosted his second meeting as Chairman of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) on Sunday. The EOC will meet again today to decide status of schools, businesses and government offices for Tuesday.
Notices and information will be released to the media and via the Government Radio Station 107.9FM about preparations and advisories related to Irma.
Operations at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) scheduled today, Tuesday and Wednesday are postponed. Small outpatient procedures will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Patients will be informed accordingly by SMMC. The Polyclinic will operate as normal according to its Monday schedule.
Food wholesalers and warehouse depots are requested by Government to execute plans secure their properties.
Contractors should secure their sites today.
Some 90 Dutch marines are to arrive today from Curaçao/Aruba. Marlin requested their assistance as “a precautionary measure” on Friday.
A Government-issued statement on Sunday also called for residents and visitors to “stay off the road network” to allow clean-up crews from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment VROMI, contractors and emergency services “to carry out their work unhindered.”
Trenches have been cleared and will be cleaned by the Ministry for the anticipated heavy rainfall from Irma. Civil work trenches of utility companies and other contractors will be closed and secured prior to the hurricane’s arrival.
The water level in Great Salt Pond has been lowered to below sea level. This may lead to the fish dying off, the Ministry said, adding that the lowering was necessary to ensure homes and properties surrounding the Pond are protected from flooding due to run-off water from heavy rainfall.
Two additional pumps will be brought online to support the one already in operation. Storm water pumps will remain operational during the hurricane to ensure the Pond’s holding capacity will be sufficient to retain the water to prevent potential flooding of nearby areas.
Heavy equipment will be pre-positioned at various locations prior to the hurricane to allow for clearing of roadways once the storm system has passed.
Residents of coastal areas – Beacon Hill, Simpson Bay, Pelican and Philipsburg (along Boardwalk Boulevard) – are advised by Government to have plans in place for possible storm surge.
Residents are reminded that shelters should be used only as a last resort as they will open only after the hurricane has passed and will be open for only 48 hours. People who make use of shelters must bring their own water and non-perishable food. Those who do not feel safe at home prior to the arrival of the hurricane should make preparations to stay with family or friends before the hurricane hits.
Residents are urged not to wait until the last moment to evacuate their homes. Evacuation should be done before the hurricane arrives, as first responders will not be able to go out during hurricane-force winds to execute a rescue and rising storm waters could also flood roads.
The hurricane shelters are New Testament Baptist Church (Philipsburg), Sister Marie Laurence Primary School (Middle Region), Dutch Quarter Community Centre, Milton Peters College (South Reward), Rupert I. Maynard Youth Community Centre (St. Peters), St. Maarten Academy (Cul de Sac), National Institute for Professional Advancement (Cay Hill), Leonald Connor School (Cay Bay), Christian Fellowship Church (Cole Bay) and Allan C. Halley Community Centre (Simpson Bay). An additional shelter is to be put on the list today for Belvedere.
The Red Cross Chapters of Curaçao and Aruba are prepared to send personnel to St. Maarten if necessary.