PHILIPSBURG — With the peak of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season approximately three weeks away, coastal residents living near beaches as well as businesses that are located along coastal areas, are advised to have plans in place for possible storm surge inundation in the event of a passing hurricane along the south coasts of the country.
The 2020 hurricane season has been forecast to be a busy one, and therefore everybody is strongly advised to be prepared.
The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) says these plans should be in place year-round as a natural disaster can happen at any time. Families should take extra time to practice the plan. ODM urges families to use the opportunity now to review those plans to make sure you are ready!
Property damages that can be expected from hurricanes and coastal flooding is a threat to life.
Most coastal communities are vulnerable to one or more different kinds of flooding and related hazards: frequent flooding from storm surge and winds; and storm-caused erosion of bluffs and beaches.
Coastal areas of Sint Maarten are mostly found on the south side of the island and these are: Beacon Hill, vicinity of the Princess Juliana International Airport road connection to Beacon Hill, Simpson Bay beach, Pelican, and Philipsburg, the Great Bay beach (along the boardwalk), Point Blanche, and Guana Bay.
In the event of a passing hurricane, homeowners should secure their possessions to upper levels of the structure. If you decide not to stay in your home, you should make the necessary arrangements about where you and/or your family would stay to ride out the storm/hurricane.
One should not wait until the last moment to evacuate their home; this should be done before the hurricane arrives, a minimum of 24 hours prior to the arrival of the storm system.
First responders won’t be able to go out during hurricane-force winds to execute a rescue if you are trapped and inundated by storm surge. Rising storm waters can also flood coastal roads; therefore, you should leave 24-hours before.
The most important link in the chain of preparation and response for coastal flooding is you. Take the necessary measures to prepare your family and home early, ODM advises.
Here is a checklist if you have to leave your home before a hurricane strike due to anticipated high storm surge: turn off water and gas; have a radio and spare batteries; a first-aid kit; flashlight; spare bedding; bottled water and tinned food; house keys; prescription medicine; cash and credit cards; mobile phone and spare clothing.
For general information about preparing prior to a storm/hurricane strike, visit the Government website: www.sintmaartengov.org/hurricane where you will be able to download your ‘Hurricane Season Readiness Guide’ and ‘Hurricane Tracking Chart’. Listen to the Government Radio station – 107.9FM – for official information and news before, during, and after a hurricane. For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS): www.meteosxm.com
Be prepared this hurricane season!