Philipsburg; With eyes on the effects, recovery and rebuilding in the wake of the hurricanes of September 2017, and considering that in a short four (4) months’ time the next hurricane season will be upon us, the Ombudsman Dr. Nilda Arduin now gears attention to the preparedness of the country for the 2018 hurricane season. Considering the aforementioned, the Ombudsman has resolved to conduct a systemic investigation regarding: The state of preparedness of the government of Sint Maarten pursuant to the National Ordinance Disaster Risk Reduction and the Disaster Management Plan.
Disaster Management Plan
Based on the National Ordinance Disaster Risk Reduction (‘Landsverordening Rampenbestrijding: AB 2013, GT no. 7 – AB 2015, no. 9’), a Disaster Management Plan was established by National Decree (‘Rampenplan Sint Maarten: AB 2013,GT no. 150’).
The Disaster Management Plan is an organizational plan, which describes in general terms how to deal with a disaster, or a threatening disaster (e.g. a hurricane), in order to effectively combat the disaster or the major accident and the consequences thereof. The emphasis in the plan is on the administrative, organizational and coordinating elements (in combating a disaster).
The Disaster Management Plan requires that, for the effective prevention of disasters or serious incidents, preparatory work must be carried out by establishing sub-plans by the ten (10) Emergency Support Function (ESF) groups. On the basis of these sub-plans, the departments, services and institutions must draw up their action plans.
Barring a contingency plan dated October 2014, submitted by the Ministry of VROMI, the request by the Ombudsman for the (updated) sub-plans and action plans have gone unanswered. A formal request to the Council of Ministers (COM) for plans of approach, policies/criteria, requirements and selection procedures to provide relief and services to those in need, in particular regarding housing, also did not receive a response. The lack of response to queries of the Ombudsman as well as Parliament warrants serious concerns, as the next hurricane season starts on 1 June 2018. Reason why the Ombudsman has resolved to initiate the investigation.
The documents regarding this investigation, as well as the other systemic investigations started by the Ombudsman are available on our website: www.ombudsman.sx, under the ‘Articles and Presentations’ tab.