Million-dollar damage for Coast Guard St. Maarten | THE DAILY HERALD

Coast Guard on patrol.

THE HAGUE–Hurricane Irma caused just under one million dollars in damage to the Coast Guard in St. Maarten, Minister of Defence Ank Bijleveld said this Wednesday during a consultation with the Committee for Defence of the Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber.

The Coast Guard building was badly damaged and two go-fast boats were destroyed. The repairs and replacements are financed from the reconstruction fund.

“The strengthening of border control is also part of the reconstruction,” Bijleveld said. Another 4.75 million euros from the reconstruction fund will be used to strengthen border control in St. Maarten.

The Coast Guard will sail and fly more often in St. Maarten due to the extra budget. In the coming months, among other things, mobile radars will be purchased, and more people will be hired.

The Police Force of St. Maarten, Customs and the Royal Marechaussee also receive extra funds thanks to the reconstruction fund, according to Bijleveld.

She also commented on statements made by Navy Commander in the Caribbean Peter de Vin about emergency aid. In an interview with the Defence magazine Alle Hens De Vin said the Navy had underestimated the situation.

At the request of St. Maarten, the priority was to offer help and to map the damage. “This should have been, with today’s knowledge, also the maintenance of public order and safety,” said De Vin, referring to the looting.

Bijleveld stressed that the Navy only provided assistance on the basis of a request from the authorities in St. Maarten. It does not have the right to prioritise by itself. In the application there was, indeed, less priority for maintaining public order, she stated.

“St. Maarten was not prepared well enough, although we must not forget that the authorities themselves were also affected by the hurricane, and we learned from it,” Bijleveld said.

She considered it an “important lesson” that better coordination is needed when navy support is requested, and she also pointed to the possibility of applying for military assistance before a hurricane takes place.

Source: The Daily Herald