~Tropical Storm Fiona is to pass South of Sint Maarten~
PHILIPSBURG:--- Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs, Ms. Silveria Jacobs, in her capacity as Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) hereby confirms that due to expected impending weather, an EOC meeting was held, with updates given by all Emergency Support Functions (ESF), including advice on the steps to be taken to ensure the safety of the public of Sint Maarten.
It was stated this morning at 11:30 AM, in weather bulletins that a Tropical Storm Warning has been issued by the Meteorological Department of Sint Maarten (MDS). This means that tropical storm conditions can be expected within 36 hours.
According to MDS on Thursday, on its current forecast track, the center of Tropical Storm Fiona is expected to pass approximately 75 miles south of the country on Saturday, however, impacts are expected by Friday afternoon/evening. Maximum sustained winds have increased near 60 MPH with higher gusts possible. The Tropical Storm is moving towards the west near 14MPH and is expected to cause sea conditions to deteriorate, and impact the island with high winds, thunderstorms, and 3 - 6 inches of rain with the subsequent risk of flooding and rockfalls.
Informing the people
Earlier this evening, a press conference was held to inform the public, not only about the potentially threatening weather but also of any potential schedule changes that the island might experience during the next few days.
The public is requested to tune in to the National Address to be given by the Prime Minister, tomorrow at 9:00 am to give further updates, including business closures, opening times for shelters, and other relevant information. While the storm is predicted to pass close to the island with impacts from the weather expected to start during the afternoon/evening hours of Friday, further monitoring is required before any decisions by the government on business closures can be made.
During the Prime Minister’s Address tomorrow morning, the public will be notified whether, and when, businesses and government operations will close in advance of the storm’s arrival as the situation remains fluid and further changes can occur as the weather is not an exact science.
During the meeting of the EOC, it was decided that given the inclement condition of the weather, and the potential hazards, as a safety precaution, to advise the Minister of ECYS to have all schools remain closed for tomorrow, September 16, 2022. The Minister has subsequently issued a letter to all school boards informing them of this decision.
The Department of VROMI has confirmed the clearing of most trenches around the island and expects that there will be no challenge with water flows. The levels in the ponds have been addressed, and are at acceptable levels in preparation for the expected excessive rainfall.
All garbage collectors have been advised that all waste should be collected tomorrow regardless of their regular schedule. The public is asked not to put out garbage for collection after the trucks have passed on Friday morning.
Police and the Ministry of VROMI are taking measures ahead of approaching Tropical Storm Fiona to ensure public safety. Barricades will be placed to prohibit or limit access to flood-prone areas/roads in the event of heavy rainfall. Areas include the Cul-de-Sac Basin, Low-lying areas in Philipsburg and surrounding, and Low-lying areas of Simpson Bay and mullet-Bay. Police forewarn the public – pedestrians or motorists - that removing or displacing barricades will constitute a criminal offense. Anyone who takes the risk to access these flood zones will do so at their own risk.
The plan is set for the opening of the hurricane shelter at John Larmonie Center, in the event of extreme situations. If persons need to access the shelter, please walk with supplies, such as water, snacks, and/or necessities, like medication, etc. The opening times will be made known in tomorrow’s National Address.
The Prime Minister urges the public to remain calm in the face of the approaching storm which may trigger anxiety for some, which is understandable based on our recent experiences with disasters. Residents are urged to take extra precautions for the vulnerable persons in their family such as children, the elderly, and those with special needs. Being informed and prepared, and spending time with loved ones and family are ways to alleviate these fears.
To stay abreast of the updates, please stay tuned to official notices from the Meteorological Department of Sint Maarten at www.meteosxm.com. There is also up-to-date information on the Government’s Facebook Page, the GOVRADIO 107.9FM, and the government website.