Hurricane Isaac heading to Dutch islands

An USAR team builds a new roof for a Sint Maarten home damaged by hurricane Irma, 20 Sept 2017
An USAR team builds a new roof for a Sint Maarten home damaged by hurricane Irma, 20 Sept 2017Photo: @USARNL / Twitter

While the Caribbean had a quiet hurricane season so far this year, that may change in the coming days. On Thursday or Friday Dutch time, Hurricane Isaac will cross paths with the Windward Islands. The Dutch islands of Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius can expect some extreme weather with very strong winds and lots of rain, Weeronline reports.

According to most of the current calculations, Isaac will hit the Windward Islands on Thursday evening or Friday as a first  category hurricane. That means possible wind speeds of 120 to 150 kilometers per hour, with gusts up to 180 kilometers per hour. Hundreds of millimeters of rain could fall, and waves up to 6 meters are possible on the coast.

The current expectations show that Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique will be worst hit. But a slight change of course to the north or south may mean that other islands will bear the brunt of the hurricane. "In the coming days the course of Isaac will be very closely monitored. In the meantime, preparations can best be based on the unfavorable scenario", Weeronline said. 

Slightly over a year ago, on 6 September 2017, Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius were hit by Hurricane Irma. Sint Maarten got the worst of it, with over 90 percent of the island's buildings sustaining damage. The people of the Netherlands raised some 20 million euros for Sint Maarten. A year later about a third of that money has been used, mainly for providing the bare necessities - food, water and shelter.

The Dutch government also made 550 million euros available to Sint Maarten for the reconstruction of the Dutch part of the island. The first 112 million euros of that money was released to the island in April. 

While progress has been made on the reconstruction of the island, there is still a lot of work to do. Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius in May. "A new hurricane season is threatening, and then we have to be prepared for the worst. There must be sufficient shelter capacity, and that is no yet sufficiently the case", he said after his visit.