MP Doran: St. Maarten not ready for hurricane season | THE DAILY HERALD

~ Wants govt. to hold meeting with residents ~

SUCKER GARDEN–St. Maarten is not prepared for the annul Atlantic hurricane season that started on June 1. This is the observation made by first-term Member of Parliament (MP) Jurendy Doran of the National Alliance after recent visits to several neighbourhoods.

Doran’s visits prompted him to call on government to hold “an open-air general town hall meeting” with the people “to speak to them directly” instead of only through the press about the recovery.

“Look our people in their eyes and tell them that all is being done to assist them. The people deserve this, as they have been through a lot and are desperate to understand what the way forward is, since the storm nine months ago,” he said.
One topic he wants addressed is the readiness of hurricane shelters. This stems from Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops’ focus on ensuring there are sufficient shelters during his last visit here.

Government has not yet issued a list of hurricane shelters to the public. Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin said such a list will come after government completes its assessment and repairs of all existing and potential shelters ahead of the season’s peak (August to October).

It is “high time” for government to tell residents the number of hurricane shelters available now and the number of people still displaced or roofless compared with available shelters, said Doran.
He said some areas he visited were never assessed by any government officials, thus raising his concern about whether “an actual correct thorough assessment” of the state of houses has been executed by government.

“We are nowhere close to where we need to be in regard to hurricane readiness and progress made from the relief effort since September,” Doran said in a press statement issued Sunday. “It is extremely heart-breaking to see the situation that our people still find themselves in, no less than nine months after the hurricanes of September 2017.”

June 1, the start of the hurricane season, met many persons still displaced, many businesses still closed, a noticeable lack of skilled construction workers, low tourism figures, word that Princess Juliana International Airport will take more than a year to be rebuilt, labour issues and infrastructure shortcomings, said Doran.

He also criticised the Dutch government, saying the promised recovery funds which “have not been released and the ominous way of their entire procedure are a hindrance in the recovery process, as it seems that this is the one and only way to get the country back up and running.”

The development of a National Disaster Operation Plan, resulting from the recent Preparedness Conference, hosted by the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), is “most welcome … although late,” said Doran. “I wish the government the very best with this.”

A longstanding issue plaguing the community that has grown worse since Irma is the constant-on-fire dump. This is a topic many people raised with him, said Doran.
“This was described by most as the worst hazard to date. … This is in direct desecration of the Constitution Article 21.1 which reads, the government shall take steps to promote public health,” he said.

Source: The Daily Herald