Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar Ottley; Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert Doran and NRPB Director Claret Connor look at the newly installed groundwater reservoirs at one of the shelters visited.
PHILIPSBURG--Families seeking refuge at designated hurricane shelters in the country will enjoy a bit more comfort during their stay now that minor repairs and upgrades have been completed as part of the Shelter Repairs Activity of the Netherlands financed St. Maarten Trust Fund.
Enhancements to the eleven shelter facilities in the project included installing new generators, air conditioning units, and above groundwater reservoirs. Missing, broken, or outdated doors, windows, and shutters have also been replaced. In addition, plumbing and electrical works were carried out where necessary.
Ministers of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran and Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Omar Ottley visited several shelters on Wednesday afternoon to appraise the completed works. The ministers were hosted by the Director of the National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB), the project implementing unit of the Trust Fund.
Ottley said while he hopes that the country is spared from a hurricane once again this year, he is extremely happy to see that the shelters have been upgraded to provide comfort and safety at the same time. The most satisfying factor was the specially made hurricane shutters that can withstand storms as high as Category 5.
The Ministry of VROMI, responsible for the upkeep of all public buildings including the emergency shelters, worked closely with NRPB during the repairs in identifying the outstanding scope of works. “I am very pleased to witness the completion of this endeavour ahead of the start of the 2021 hurricane season. It brings me peace knowing that we will be able to assist families who register at a hurricane shelter with a sense of security and protection during potentially dangerous and compromising weather.”
NRPB Director Claret Connor said he was glad that the ministers could join him on the visit to the shelter facilities as ultimately, the work that is done as NRPB is on behalf of the government of Sint Maarten. “The addition of the new amenities such as the water reservoirs and air conditioners will ensure a more comfortable stay for families during what can be a very stressful time,” Connor said.
During the visits, many of the facility managers expressed their appreciation for the upgrades and shared with the delegation how they have already begun to benefit from the enhancements. One manager mentioned that they were still able to host their after-school activities during a planned electricity outage by utilising the newly installed generator.
The St. Maarten Recovery and Resilience Trust Fund is financed by the government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented on behalf of the government of St. Maarten by the NRPB.