The hurricane relief exercise that Defense is holding in the Caribbean region from September 15 to September 27, has been temporarily changed to actual deployment on the Windward Islands. The local authorities of Saba and St. Eustatius have made a request to Defense to provide military assistance in connection with the passage of storm Fiona. A lot of rain and strong gusts of wind are expected, resulting in a high degree of expected damage and nuisance. During deployment, Defense acts together with local security partners.
Saba has asked the Ministry of Defense to support them in clearing areas and clearing roads. There is also a need for possible support with minor repairs, both before and after the storm passage. Saba has a limited infrastructure, which makes it important to clear roads quickly for the emergency services already present. More than 30 marines and a military nurse from the Royal Netherlands Navy are present.
Dutch soldiers will also provide military assistance on St. Eustatius in the form of possible emergency aid. Due to the expected rain and wind, there is a risk of damage to buildings and therefore also a potential danger for the inhabitants. What can become a particularly big problem on the island are mudslides, flooding and landslides. Here too, Defense can make a difference with the marines already present and provide the island with possible emergency aid. Defense will provide an advisor for the disaster staff to ensure smooth cooperation between the local authorities and Defense. In addition, more than 30 marines will act in partnership with the police and the fire brigade where necessary to perform various tasks.
There is currently no concrete need for military assistance on Sint Maarten, but the units are ready to carry out any requests. If no deployment is required from Defense on Sint Maarten, the exercise program will be resumed. The soldiers to be deployed are already present on the islands because of training for providing emergency response to a hurricane passage, called the ‘Windward Express’. When the situation permits, the units from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten will resume (parts of) the training. Supporting the local authorities is one of the main tasks of Defense in the Caribbean Region.