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August 18, 2015

Hurricane season


Hi everyone!

As you all probably know by now, the official hurricane season is from June 1st through December. Normally the ‘peak risk’ for SXM is from about August 20th to October 20th – ish. It is important to note that hurricanes have struck SXM in June, July, August September, October, November, in the years past!! With Mother Nature, nothing is absolute, but generally speaking the peak is end of August through October.

SXM is situated at approximately 63 degrees longitude and 18 degrees N. latitude. It is advisable to keep a hurricane chart handy in each apartment. These can be obtained, for free, from many of the merchants on the island and are usually published on the local Daily Herald. Also, a good website for tracking is: and go to the map ‘Tropical Atlantic‘ and other one of my favorites.

It really doesn’t matter how many hurricanes are predicated for any given year, the important thing is whether or not one actually strikes land here!! Hurricanes are very UN-predictable: they can be tracking as a direct hit, then dramatically turn and miss completely. The opposite scenario is true as well: they can be tracking completely away from SXM, then turn for a direct hit. The best thing, of course, is to be prepared in any possible event, well ahead of any scenario!

There are certain items you should have ‘in stock‘ at home now because if you wait until the last moment you will be faced with long lines and even no supplies available.When purchasing canned goods, always check for expiration dates, as it is the low season and many items don’t sell as fast.

Items you should always keep in stock:

  • –  bottled water; enough to keep you hydrated for at least 1 week;
  • –  edible canned goods: tuna, chicken, vegetables, fruits, juices, etc…
  • –  flashlights with spare batteries for each person in the house;
  • –  battery powered radio with extra batteries;
  • –  candles/matches/lighter
  • –  first aid kit and any medicines you may need or take regularly.
  • –  Clorox, mops, cleaning supplies, towels, rags;
  • –  Styrofoam ice chest
  • –  5 gal. Bucket, for water, for each bath;
  • –  WD40
  • –  DO NOT keep your freezers full of frozen perishables;
  • –  check to make sure all electrical surge protectors are operating well.Be sure all drains on all terraces, balconies, stairwells/entries and Sun Decks, on both levels, are clean and free of any debris and/or algae. These MUST be checked every 2-3 weeks during the season! When the rains start, the drains can and will clog and water will back-up into the apartment/house.What to do when a hurricane’s headed for SXM:

– double check supplies, replenish if necessary;

  • –  listen to and hear all the advice of the local authorities;
  • –  fill your car with gas, as early as possible. It is a good idea to keep your gas levels at least one-half full at all times throughout the hurricane season.
  • –  Put WD40 on all locks, your vehicles and apartment/house, as corrosion is rapid here;
  • –  freeze large plastic containers of water, to use in your ice chest if necessary.Preparation when a hurricane is imminent:
  • –  bring ALL items inside apartment/house, including all furniture; everything except gas bottles. Any gas bottles must be secured OUTSIDE the apartment/house. I would suggest tying it securely, top and bottom, to the exterior banister on the upper level Sun Deck further away from the actual apartment/house. SECURE as high winds can make it a dangerous flying torpedo;
  • –  close all windows and doors securely and lock each;
  • –  close all hurricane shutters to the maximum and lock securely;
  • –  park vehicles in secure areas, sheltered, but away form possible falling trees and flying debris;
  • –  it may be necessary to place towels at bases of entry doors, inside, as water may seep throughthe door sills during high winds and rain;
  • –  GEBE will most likely turn off all electricity prior to the arrival of the actual hurricane and forsome time following it;
  • –  turn off ALL important electrical circuit breakers such as AC’s, water heater’s, appliances’,refrigerator’s, etc…, as electrical surges may occur with frequency, as GEBE tries to re-establish the power. Keep one circuit breaker on for a light, so you know when power has been re- established. After some time of stability, reconnect all other breakers;
  • –  GEBE will most likely turn off water and cease from production of water for quite some time following an event as the debris in the ocean is usually unsuitable for reverse osmosis, for some time.
  • Emergency      911


  • Fire alarm       919


  • Ambulance      +1-721-545-2111


  • Fire Station      +1-721-542-6001


  • Medical center   +1-721-543-1111


  • Police department    +1-721-542-2222/ 545-5555

Things to do AFTER a hurricane:

  • –  usually the Island Government will issue a curfew prior to and following an event;
  • –  during a ‘curfew’ do not go out on the roads! The Government is quite serious about this and only emergency vehicles and those persons in possession of a previously obtained hurricanepass are allowed on the roads. This is strictly enforced;
  • –  check your water meter and turn on, making sure that the pvc pipe is not leaking/damaged;
  • –  clean up any and all debris as best as you can;
  • –  re-spray all locks with WD40 as salt is extremely corrosive;
  • –  assist those who may need help.Helpful hints:
  • –  all persons MUST remain in their home throughout the duration of the hurricane; this is a curious event to the novice, but it is a well-known fact that many injuries and even death may occur when people venture outdoors and are hit by flying debris/objects;
  • –  each tenant is solely responsible for securing his/her apartment/house properly, regardless of whether or not he/she is on island during an event. If you intend to vacate the unit during the season, then make all preparations for a possible event during your absence prior to leaving the island! Not pre-planning and securing a unit properly, could result in invalidation of the insurance policy of that unit, as well as debris damage to adjacent units. This point cannot be emphasized! Note: prior to leaving the unit during the hurricane season, be sure to shut off all circuit breakers inside the unit with the exception of the refrigerator. However , make sure the ice maker tray is empty and the ice maker is turned off. Also turn your water meter to the off position, as if flying debris brake the pvc water line after the meter, you will receive a huge bill for water you have not used, but you will be responsible for.
  • –  Once you have taken care of your responsibilities and precautions, assist any of those who may need your help;
  • –  Telephones: sometimes the land line phones are ‘operative’ throughout an event. Cell phones usually come back on-line depending on the satellite equipment damage.

This is not conclusive by any means. Mother Nature is unpredictable, but at least it’s a start. Let’s all hope and pray that we won’t need this memorandum, but let’s allow wisdom to prevail and be prepared for the ultimate safety and well-being of all.

The Sunshine Properties’ Team

About the author, Jonathan Schaede

Hi there! My name is Jonathan Schaede and I created this site. Here you will find a lot of information that you would otherwise not find about St. Maarten Real Estate and the market. It's a great way in paragraph form to get to know the neighborhoods and areas in our little Paradise. A little more about me; I had the pleasure of growing up  in St. Maarten and have always been involved in our family owned Real Estate and Development company, Sunshine Properties, founded by my father Dieter Schaede a pioneer in the Real Estate industry. Follow us on Facebook or Google+

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