St Maarten early warning system

GREAT BAY, St Maarten, September 29, 2006 – St Maarten has installed a new Community Alert Warning System which will be tested for the first time on Monday and each first Monday of the month.

It is a siren system established in seven areas across the Dutch-speaking popular tourism destination in the northern Caribbean which have a high risk of flooding. These areas are Mary’s Fancy, Ebenezer, Madame Estate, Dutch Quarter, Belvedere, Cole Bay and Philipsburg.

The purpose of the community alert warning siren is to warn residents about a rapid-onset emergency and designed to avoid a recurrence of the tragic 2005 flash floods in which two people died. The siren is quick method to alert the public and for them to take action. Some events may occur so fast, such as a tsunami, that there would not be time for an announcement to be broadcast via radio. However, the system is designed to work in association with the local radio stations who have been included as part of the early warning system. Once the siren goes off, residents are advised to tune into any local station for details of the impending impact.

The system is to warn residents about a flash flood, a tsunami, an evacuation of a specific area, a hazardous materials accident, general emergency conditions, and that a curfew is in effect. A three month sensitisation programme is being launched from next week.

Additional sirens will be installed in the other districts of Simpson Bay, Cay Bay, Suckergarden, Point Blanche and Cay Hill.  These areas have been selected due to possible hazardous material risks.