Saturday, Jun 06th

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Editorial - For the worst

It’s pretty clear by now that Hurricane Danny will be in the general vicinity Monday morning, although practice has shown that projections regarding the exact time-lines and paths of tropical systems aren’t always accurate. Just about everyone on the islands where this newspaper is distributed ought to be familiar with what this means, while those who aren’t no doubt will be finding out.

Residents were urged in Thursday’s paper to re-check preparations, but realistically speaking, many might not even have started yet. Their moment of truth is obviously here, because further delay could have highly regrettable consequences particularly for themselves, but possibly also for others.

The importance of being able to communicate with the public cannot be overstated. Experience with, for example, Hurricane Gonzalo a year ago and how it deviated from the forecast track models at the last minute confirmed that the population needs to constantly be kept abreast of developments.

It was also reported that hurricane shelters would be opened based on the severity of the storm and its expected impact. With the latter now foreseen early Monday, Saturday’s newspaper may be the last opportunity to publish information via the printed media of St. Maarten and authorities would do well to take this into account.

In addition, most of the area’s radio stations also tend to operate without on-air announcers during the weekend and especially Sunday, although some probably will change that for the occasion. Of course, there is the government emergency broadcast system, but one can’t lose sight of the fact that listeners probably will tune in to their preferred frequencies first.

Under the circumstances, every effort should be made to send out whatever relevant data are available from Friday and to continue providing regular updates the following days. In cases like these, the risk of overkill becomes secondary to potential calamities at hand.

Danny is a relatively small disturbance, so any directional shift a few miles North or South can make a big difference in terms of local effects. While it also should be no more than a minimal hurricane or even less, it’s wise to – as always – hope for the best, but nevertheless get ready for the worst.