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Disaster Unit ESF-7 participates in earthquake/tsunami table-top exercise

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Following the workshops held in May and June 2018 for the Emergency Support Functions ‘Evacuation, Shelters, Relief & Mass Care’ (ESF 7), Dutch Disaster Management experts Suzanne Robijn and Viola van Baardwijk of VNG International held a table-top exercise on Tuesday October 16th, 2018.

The chosen scenario for the exercise was an earthquake followed by a tsunami. They were supported by professor Zoran Vojinovic of IHE Delft, an international research and education institute on water management.

The goal of the table-top exercise was to get the Disaster Plan for ESF7, developed by the Dutch experts of VNG International, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of St Maarten, finalized.

During the table-top exercise the plan, including the new Emergency Management Structure and the task charts, was tested.

Zoran Vojinovich showed with simulation models what impact the scenarios had on the island. A Tsunami Alert gave the participants the opportunity to prepare for Evacuation, Sheltering and Distribution of food and water.

In the second phase of the exercise the Tsunami hit the island and devastated 50% of the infrastructure and multiple casualties. The participants dealt with many challenges and tried to help out as many people as possible.

All the participants showed involvement, commitment, strength and knowledge of their tasks.

Choosing a different kind of risk by working out a scenario of a tsunami made everyone realize that the current draft of the Disaster Plan should contain the possibilities of handling different kinds of scenarios, instead of mainly focussing on hurricanes.

The next step will be to finalize and formalize the Disaster Plan. In November 2018 there will be an extended exercise with multiple ESF’s. The Disaster Plan for ESF 7 should by then be ready to work with.

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LEE ENCOURAGES PARTICIPATION FOR FREE BREAST SCREENING

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Public Health, Emil Lee reminds the community to take note of ongoing free breast screening opportunities during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Ministry of VSA, department of CPS, is active with prevention and recommends early diagnosis to prevent breast cancer detection at a later stage. Lee thanks the many foundations such as the Positive Foundation and local partners that promote awareness and education on Breast Cancer within the community.

Upcoming screenings for this week include Thursday October 18th – Dutch Quarter Clinic, Oasis Medical Clinic, Pure Health Clinic, Friday October 19th – Simpson bay Medical Clinic and Saturday October 20th – Soualiga Medical Practice, Family Medical Practice and the United Pentecostal Church.

For more information on the schedule, contact the Positive Foundation. For information on Preventive programs contact The Collective Prevention Services department. 

SMMC, in conjunction with Positive Foundation and Electralytes Foundation is also offering free clinical breast exams this Saturday October 27th, 2018 from 4pm to 6pm.  

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BIP St. Maarten presents 2017 financials to Minister of TEATT

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Despite some setbacks due to the devastation caused by hurricane Irma in 2017, the Bureau of Intellectual Property St. Maarten has completed a third year of operation.

On October 16th, the BIP Director, Mrs. V. Rosen-Sandiford officially presents the 2017 financial statement to the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication (TEATT) the honorable Minister Stuart Johnson, for approval.

In accepting the document, Minister Johnson expressed particular pride in seeing that the BIP is “doing well after the setbacks caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.” The BIP has themed its financial statement for 2017, “moving forward through the storm”. This is the fourth financial statement submitted by the Bureau since its formal establishment.

This month marks the third official year of the Bureau since the National Ordinance BIP went into effect and consequently the operations of the Bureau on October 1st, 2015. Additionally, the Bureau as of date has submitted four multi-annual budgets and policy plans.

The Bureau intends to submit the Multi-Annual Budget and Policy plan for 2019-2023 before the end of this year. This will conclude bringing the Bureau’s financial reporting up to date. 

 “I have approved the 2015 and 2016 financial statements of the Bureau earlier this year and I intend to finalize the review and subsequently approve the 2017 financial statements within short. Once this has been completed the Bureau can transfer its surplus, after deduction of reserves, to government’s coffers.” said Minister Johnson.

The Bureau registers trademarks and provides information about other areas of intellectual property, such as patents and copyright, to the public. More information regarding the Bureau and its services can be found on www.bip.sx and on social media (Facebook and LinkedIn). 

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Members of Parliament tour Hurricane Shelters

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament Egbert Jurendy Doran requested a tour of the hurricane shelters on Sint Maarten during the Central Committee meeting on August 3, 2018.

The Prime Minister stated then that she had no reservations therewith, and on Friday, October 12th, Members of Parliament (MPs) had the opportunity to visit three of the 13 listed establishments that were reportedly adjusted and prepared by Government in such a way that they should be able to function as shelters in the event of a catastrophe.  The MPs that took part in the tour were E. Doran, S. Jacobs, A. Irion, C. Emmanuel, S. Wescot Williams, S. Bijlani, and T. Leonard.

In a previous press release dated 4 June 2018, MP Doran expressed his concerns and stated the following pertaining to the state of affairs of the people, in this quoted statement; “It is extremely heartbreaking to see the situation that our people still find themselves in, no less than nine months after the hurricanes of September 2017.”

MP Doran requested a tour of the hurricane shelters, in order to be assured that all was being done for the people of Sint Maarten in the case of a natural disaster. This is of utmost importance particularly, after Dutch State Secretary R. Knops stated to the press in The Netherlands some months ago, that there were enough shelters (hiding places) for the people of Sint Maarten in the event of another storm.

The Member of Parliament was very concerned about this statement at the time, especially seeing that this information was given to the press in The Netherlands and distributed among the population there, while the local population on Sint Maarten had not heard a word from their own Government concerning the shelters up to that time. This is something that MP Doran says is very confusing for the vulnerable people that went through and still are going through so much already. This request for the Tour was later echoed by MP Christophe Emmanuel.

MP Doran stated that he applauds Government for its attempt to secure the wellbeing of the people of this country and for trying its apparent best to ensure that the country is better prepared for any future storms.

He however stated that while something was done, it is a far cry from what Government promised the people. No timeline could be given as far as it pertains to the completion of the planned underground water tanks, showers, generators and diesel tanks that were illustrated in the manifesto that the MP’S received by Government during the tour.

MP Doran said that while he understands that since the devastation of the hurricane things aren’t progressing the way it normally would, he expects the Council of Ministers to do no less than making sure that particular issues receive priority when listing what comes first or last as far as it concerns the monies from the World Bank.

According to the Member of Parliament, issues such as roof / house repairs and shelter reinforcements should have been handled with the highest form of priority at the beginning of the year.

“As it stands, that is not the case up until this moment and it is a real pity, because our people are suffering, due to the fact that much to their disappointment, the Government fell short on its promise to take care of them” the young MP said.

The Members of Parliament were not accompanied by any Minister, but by representatives and civil servants of the Ministry of VROMI and VSA and representatives of the Sint Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and the Red Cross.                                                                                                                                                      

MP Doran wishes to thank the facilitators of the tour for dedicating their time and energy to making the tour a very informative one.

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New NV GEBE Supervisory Board Members

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Since the announcement of the appointment of the new members to the Supervisory Board of Directors of N.V. GEBE in a press briefing by the Council of Ministers last week, the Supervisory Board of Directors of N.V. GEBE is pleased to announce that they have had their first introductory meeting and appointed the Chairman and Vice Chairman, NV GEBE said in a press statement on Sunday.

The Supervisory Board of Directors is committed to work as a team in continuing to move N.V. GEBE forward the release concludes.

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Country Under a Heavy Rainfall Advisory until Sunday

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) – The Meteorological Department of Sint Maarten (MDS) announced late Saturday afternoon that the country is under a “A Heavy Rainfall Advisory” until 12:00pm Sunday 14 October.

“Heavy showers leading to localized flooding are likely over sections of the island. Residents are urged to avoid driving in flooded streets until the heavy rain has tapered off and the flood-waters have subsided.

“In case there are lightning strikes very close to your location (loud thunder, less than three seconds between lightning discharge and thunder), switch off and disconnect any sensitive electronic equipment. Also, disconnect any phone line from your computer,” the MDS special weather bulletin stated late Saturday afternoon.

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Ministry VROMI calls for vigilance due to heavy rainfall

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Miklos Giterson, has taken note of the heavy rainfall being experienced today, Saturday, and would like to assure residents that Department of Infrastructure Management is at the moment busy assessing and resolving issues caused by the heavy rainfall.

Residents are urged to stay off the roadways for the rest of the day unless travel is necessary as all roads have the possibility of experiencing temporary flooding.  If travel is necessary, motorists are advised to pay particular attention to flood-prone roads such as the Waterfront Road, Wellington Road, Zagersgut Road and the Mullet Bay Road leading to the area of the Starz Casino in Cupecoy. 

Persons residing in the hillside areas should be vigilant of land movement, such as mudslides, as the island has experienced an increased amount of rainfall over the past weeks leading to an oversaturation of the ground. Persons residing in vulnerable areas prone to flooding are also asked to remain attentive.

The Ministry has activated its water management system and the Great Bay canal has been opened as a precautionary measure and water is currently being pumped from the Salt Pond into the Great Bay sea.   There have been reports of fallen trees, rocks and debris and the Ministry is actively working on clearing everything away.

The Ministry will continue to monitor for hazardous conditions and will alert the public with more advisories if necessary.

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KFC donates to the Positive and the Elektralyets Foundations

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - KFC has joined the Feel it, Find it, Fight it, Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign with the Positive and the Elektralyets foundation. This is the first time that KFC and staff goes pink for the month of October.

KFC donated 100 shirts to the foundations in aid of their month-long Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign.

The staff at KFC Philipsburg and Cole bay will be wearing their shirts throughout the month as a reminder to the customers to be Breast Aware and to get Checked!

The Positive and Elektralyets Foundation are very happy to have KFC on board to help them with their message that early detection saves lives and they should never give up the fight as it reads on their t-shirts.

The shirts will be distributed to various organizations in the medical realm Breast Cancer survivors and warriors. The foundations would like to thank KFC management Derryck Jack, Anuska Brown and staff for their support.

The Positive Foundation and Elektra have teamed up this year and organized a mirage of breast cancer awareness events throughout the entire month of October. Last year the foundations had to put everything on hold due the passing and subsequent devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on St. Maarten.

Despite the challenges, the foundation heads, Shelly Alphonso and Mercedes “Elektra” van der Waals Wyatt are determined and committed to continue its breast aware campaign to Feel it, Findit, Fightit, during the month of October 2018.

As St. Maarten recovers, people shy away from thinking about difficult things. We want to remind them that timely action can halt things from being truly difficult.” says Positive Foundation President Shelly Alphonso. “It is our responsibility to be Positive in the fight to save our nation’s women by reminding them to be breast aware and providing them with the opportunities to get checked.

This October, the breast cancer awareness activities includes a balance of education, awareness, fundraising, physical activity and opportunities for women to get a free clinical breast examination. Activities still to come include, Paint It Pink do it yourself workshop, Breast Aware & Car Care Workshop, moonlight meditation, a celebrity waiter dinner, Gala movie night, Pink Phit&Phabulousa run/walk challenge, bikers for boobs rally, Pandora’s Pink Party, public service announcements on the radio, public and private group information sessions, the distribution of educational literature like shower guides and women’s breast health handbook and 30 opportunities where women can get a free clinical breast examination offered by our resident health care providers.

Shelly Alphonso and Elektra are enormously grateful to the business community, supporters and volunteers for their continued support. “Despite the aftermath of the storms and severe setbacks, they have embraced the October 2018 Be Breast Aware campaign”, the foundation presidents echoed.

The breast cancer awareness movement launched in 1998 by the Positive Foundation has collaborated with the Elektralyets Foundation for over a decade in the fight to save lives with its early detection messaging.

Check out our Facebook page – Positive Foundation for events and screening opportunities or contact:-

Shelly Alphonso at 580 9658 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or

Elektra at 523-7418 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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CPS: World Mental Health Day October 10 Theme: Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, DCOMM) – 10 October marks World Mental Health Day around the world. The theme is “Young people and mental health in a changing world.”

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, says that World Mental Health Day provides an opportunity for people and organizations around the world working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. 

The observations and creating awareness of the annual theme is part of CPSs annual calendar of health observances.

Mental health refers to an array of activities directly or indirectly related to the mental well-being component included in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.”

According to the WHO, “Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example changing schools, leaving home, and starting university or a new job. For many, these are exciting times. They can also be times of stress and apprehension however. In some cases, if not recognized and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness. 

“The expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures, as connectivity to virtual networks at any time of the day and night grows. Many adolescents are also living in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. Young people living in situations such as these are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.

“Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. In terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. Harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents is a major issue in many countries and can lead to risky behaviours such as unsafe sex or dangerous driving. Eating disorders are also of concern.

“Fortunately, there is a growing recognition of the importance of helping young people build mental resilience, from the earliest ages, in order to cope with the challenges of today’s world. Evidence is growing that promoting and protecting adolescent health brings benefits not just to adolescents’ health, both in the short- and the long-term, but also to economies and society, with healthy young adults able to make greater contributions to the workforce, their families and communities and society as a whole.

“Much can be done to help build mental resilience from an early age to help prevent mental distress and illness among adolescents and young adults, and to manage and recover from mental illness. Prevention begins with being aware of and understanding the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness. 

“Parents and teachers can help build life skills of children and adolescents to help them cope with everyday challenges at home and at school. Psychosocial support can be provided in schools and other community settings and of course training for health workers to enable them to detect and manage mental health disorders can be put in place, improved or expanded.

“Investment by governments and the involvement of the social, health and education sectors in comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based programmes for the mental health of young people is essential. This investment should be linked to programmes to raise awareness among adolescents and young adults of ways to look after their mental health and to help peers, parents and teachers know how to support their friends, children and students. This is the focus for this year’s World Mental Health Day.”

For more information, you can call CPS 542-2078 or 542-3003.

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USP Party applauds former Minister Doncher for JetBlue

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The United St Maarten Party (USP) was very proud to learn that the efforts of former Minister of TEATT Doncher has paid off in the first ever weekday-scheduled service for the island to Fort Lauderdale.

This service was recently announced by JetBlue, and is expected to drastically improve the airlift and pricing of flights to and from the South Florida Area, St. Maarten’s most popular connecting area to the US.

“USP as a party has always taken its work with the TEATT Ministry very seriously, and we know that every day fruits of our labor help the people of St. Maarten; it is what we as a party have always been committed to” stated MP Frans Richardson, Leader of the United St. Maarten Party, “ Today we have just one example.”

Soon after being appointed Minister of TEATT by the USP, Doncher, together with MP Brison who was director of tourism at the time, set out to identify the key route development goals for the Ministry. “Fort Lauderdale was seen as a huge priority for many reasons: It is the fastest growing US international airport for several consecutive years, it would create a new alternative to the increasingly saturated Miami route, and would create competition on that route to reduce prices for travelers,” explained Brison.

“Being that airlines typically plan schedules 9 to 16 months in advance, it takes a long time before route development negotiations pan out into actual flights. In this case, we are happy to see that our efforts that started over a year ago has resulted in such an important route opening for St. Maarten,” stated MP Brison.

In June of 2017, the Minister had received the commitment of JetBlue to launch the service. Even after hurricane Irma, in November of 2017, the Minister and her team had met with JetBlue once again. The airline, voted best airline in North American by Trip Advisor for 2017, at the time commended the hard work the Ministry of TEATT was doing to help in the island’s recovery and committed to not only being among the first airlines to relaunch flights to St. Maarten, but stayed committed to the Fort Lauderdale Route.

Fort Lauderdale represents about 15% of JetBlue’s capacity, it’s the largest airline at that airport. The airline recently said that even though competition may be rising, JetBlue sees South Florida as a “large underserved market” with more expansion capabilities. JetBlue plans to continue to “grow thoughtfully” in the market,” the airline said.

JetBlue also plans to roll out its Mint service (similar to first class) at Fort Lauderdale later this year. In other markets, the introduction of Mint service has led to improved profitability. Mint service was also discussed with the Minister in New York.

The Minister was joined in New York by members of her Cabinet, Head of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Rolando Brison and St. Maarten’s marketing firm for the US, MMGY Global/Spring O’Brien, whose representatives attended the meeting to familiarize themselves with the initiatives/wishes of St. Maarten and JetBlue.

USP fully expects that soon, other route development efforts will pan out, such as the other Fort Lauderdale route negotiated with Southwest, as well as first time routes including the Moscow-SXM route of S7 Airlines and the Belgium-SXM route of TUI, among many others.

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