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Prime Minister updates on handling of Tropical Storm Fiona

PHILIPSBURG: Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs, Silveria Jacobs hereby updates the public on the weather, handling of Tropical Storm Fiona and related business and school openings. Warnings, as they relate to Tropical Storm Fiona, have been lifted as of Saturday evening as it moved away from Sint Maarten.

As of the 6:00am forecast, the flood advisory was still in effect, as rain and scattered thunderstorms were still expected throughout the day. However, the flood advisory was discontinued at 6:00pm today, September 18.

All businesses were given the green light to be open as of Sunday September 18 at 6:00 am at their own discretion. Some church activities chose to go online today to avoid unnecessary moving. The road remained relatively quiet during Sunday.

After a positive assessment, Princess Juliana International Airport resumed normal operations at 7:00am today. There were flight delays and cancellations, so those with travel plans are urged to contact their airlines for updates.

The Port is open, however, due to rough sea conditions with large swells, it was still unsafe for berthing. Another assessment was done at 2:30pm this afternoon. Updates will be provided by the Port authorities.

ESF 5, KPSM updated that, generally before, during and after the Storm Warnings most things went smoothly; cooperation with VKS and military was very good to maintain public order. The public compliance to the regulations in place was very high with very few measures needing to be taken. Police and Military also assisted to clear roads where needed. Military assistance ended officially at 3:00pm today. Road users are asked to continue to be cautious on the wet roads.

There was also solid cooperation with the Ministry of VROMI to prepare the trenches for the influx of water in the drainage systems, but also for clearing the roads thereafter.

The Minister of VROMI updated that cleaning of all roads where debris, rocks and mud littered the roads took place up to last evening. The Point Blanche areas, where rocks and mud fell into the streets was cleaned as much as possible and will receive another assessment to plan further cleanup. The clean-up of the rest of Sint Maarten will continue.

ESF 7, which oversees the shelters team under Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs (CDHFA), consisted of CDFHA staff; K1 Britannia; Red Cross; Police; VKS; WIEMS; and Leaders for Change volunteers. The team worked nonstop from the preparation of the shelter to open at 4:00pm on Friday, September 16, to ensuring proper management and successful closure at 5:00pm Saturday, Sept 17, and ensuring that those seeking shelter were safely accommodated thereafter. There was a great partnership and collaboration between government and NGO/CSOs.

ESF 10 wishes to thank all stakeholders, Harbor; Airport; hotels; critical infrastructure, such as major food suppliers; Sol; gas stations; and major hardware stores for their excellent communication and swift cooperation.

“This afternoon Sunday Sept 18, together with staff of DCOMM, we toured the island from East to West,” said Prime Minister Jacobs. The tour was organized to ascertain the impact of the storm, which caused minimal damage for the clean-up to repair.

The Prime Minister went on to state, “Tropical Storm Fiona was upgraded to a Hurricane and is causing massive flooding in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which highlights the dangers we have escaped as a country. We pray for those on Fiona’s path and give thanks that the impact on St. Maarten was minimal. We give gratitude for minimal damage, as clean-up continues. As seas remain rough with swells, caution is advised. This is not the time to let our guards down, as the weather has not fully cleared up. For those who operate small craft, we ask that you exercise extreme caution and sea bathers limit their activities until the waters have completely settled. I commend the people for adhering to the warnings, it was through your cooperation that we were able execute safety measures without dire incidents.”

The Prime Minister wishes to extend a special word of thanks toher colleagues in the Council of Ministers, EOC, back office, supporting ESF coordinators and their teams, especially Meteorological Office, Mr. Isaac and his team, the Minister of VROMI and his team, Minister of Justice, DCOMM, KPSM, VKS, Marines, CDFHA and all volunteers who executed these safety measures.

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