Heyliger wants assessment of Sandy-related damage

POSTED: 11/2/12 2:23 PM

St. Maarten – Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Romeo Pantophlet ought to provide a forecast of the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the island’s economy, United People’s party-leader Theo Heyliger said in a press statement issued yesterday. The minister should also announce “what measures will be taken to mitigate possible losses to businesses,”
Stakeholders expect to receive some information with respect to what wholesalers are experiencing; such reviews should take place over at least a four-month period, Heyliger stated, indicating that “the cancellation of thousands of flights has already had a knock-on effect on our destination.
The former vice prime minister extended his sympathy to the victims of the hurricane.
“Our thoughts and prayers of the nation firstly are with the people of the Eastern Seaboard who have experienced Hurricane Sandy which made landfall on Monday night impacting a large area of the US East coast affecting approximately 50+ million people.”

As each day goes by the death toll in the US continues to climb as rescue crews make their way through various neighborhoods that have been inundated by this super storm, Heyliger stated. “Our prayers are with the family and friends who have lost loved ones, and with those who have lost so much and are now trying to sort themselves and make a comeback. Here on Sint Maarten we can identify with the experiences that these people have gone through after having gone through Hurricane Luis in 1995.”

Sandy reportedly killed approximately 69 people in the Caribbean, with the highest death toll in Haiti (52). People also died in Cuba (11), Jamaica (1), Bahamas (2), Dominican Republic (2), Puerto Rico (1) and Canada (2). “Our prayers are with those who have lost loved ones,” Heyliger stated. The death toll on Thursday for the US stood at 88.

The full extent of the damage in the US is still being assessed. Close to eight million people at one point were without electricity and airlines cancelled more than 15,000 flights around the world after US travel hubs which include New York, Washington, New Jersey and Boston were impacted by the severe weather.

Heyliger noted that the storm could cost the US $50 billion or more. “A significant number of our visitors come from the Tri-state area in the US and we can expect to see a decline in air arrivals over the next few days and weeks due to the cancelled airlift, and other challenges that families will be confronted with.”

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