Coastal residents & businesses called on to have plans to address potential flooding from storm surge
GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season is well underway, and the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) said on Thursday that emergency plans should have already been formulated by residents who live along the country’s coastal areas or flood-prone environs.
If the aforementioned is not the case, ODM is urging (coastal, flood-prone environs) residents and businesses to start making emergency evacuation plans now, ahead of the arrival of potential storms for the hurricane season.
Coastal residents living near beaches as well as businesses that are located along coastal areas or flood-prone environs 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.
Most coastal communities are vulnerable to one or more different kinds of flooding and related hazards: frequent flooding from storm surges 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, the vicinity of the Princess Juliana International Airport Road connection to Beacon Hill, Simpson Bay beach, Pelican, Philipsburg, the Great Bay beach (along the boardwalk), Point Blanche, Oyster Pond/Dawn Beach, and Guana Bay.
In the event of a passing hurricane, homeowners should secure their possessions to the 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 will stay to ride out the storm/hurricane.
One should not wait until the last moment to evacuate; this should be done before the hurricane arrives, at least 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 they 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, home, and business early, ODM advises.
Here is a checklist if you have to leave your home before a hurricane strikes 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 canned 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 – SXMGOV 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during, and after a hurricane. You can also follow weather-related news and information as well as national addresses by the Prime Minister, chairlady of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) by going to @SXMGOV Facebook Page.
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!