Published On: Sun, Oct 2nd, 2016

Elections Curacao postponed

matthewWILLEMSTAD – The elections that were scheduled to take place today in Curacao have been postponed until Wednesday October 5 because of Tropical Storm Matthew that passes close by Curacao today, Elisa Koek reports on Caribisch Netwerk. The head of the Central Voting Bureau, Raymond Pacheco Römer and Prime Minister Ben Whiteman made the announcement yesterday afternoon during a press conference.

Mathew became a hurricane yesterday. According to Yogi Coffie of the Meteorological service the hurricane passed Curacao last night around 8 p.m. at a distance of a bit more than 200 kilometers. The Government of Curacao has warned that there may be flooding.

On Wednesday night it already started to rain in Curacao and yesterday morning the effects already became visible. Zeelandia, Salina and Jongbloed became rivers. The ministry of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning calls on everyone to report blocked trenches and to take flooding on all the known places into account because “some areas will inevitably be inundated.”

The government also asked citizens not to remove vegetation because this slows down the flow of water. Insel Air canceled all flights for today; the airline has 26 destinations in the Caribbean. “Chances are that we will run into trouble at least one of these locations.”

The clinic at Sehos closed down at noon yesterday because of the storm, a switchboard operator confirmed. The hospital asks patients to limit visits to the hospital and to keep it short. The hospital can be reached on the regular numbers but if the network blacks out, several mobile numbers will be available.

Civil servants get the day off today and the government has asked the private sector to keep its staff at home as well. School on Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are closed today.

The Ministry of foreign Affairs in The Hague stays in close contact with the authorities on the islands. “There are short lines with the representatives,” says Thijs Manten. “If there is a need for it, the Netherlands can offer support. That goes through the Ministry of Defense, the naval bases in Aruba and Curacao and the Coast Guard.”

“For Bonaire the situation is slightly different because the territory falls under the Netherlands. The Lt. Governor is in charge there. (There the ministry of justice is the first in line where disaster management is concerned.”

The Ministry of Defense indicates that it is well-prepared. “During the whole year we prepare for this main task with several trainings,” says Maartje van der Maas, the spokeswoman of Defense in the Caribbean. “When the islands ask for it we are able to offer military support by evacuating people, cleaning up roads and offer support at flooded locations.”

According to Coffie it is not the first time that a hurricane passes so close to the ABC-islands, but he says that every weather system behaves differently. “Thomas came even closer in 2010, but it was a weaker system than Matthew. It could be that we get more problems this time.”

According to Coffie, Matthew will predominantly cause flooding and today will be the worst part of the storm. “The hurricane itself does not come here so most of the wind is sucked away. We will however get a lot of rain. Because Matthew moves relatively slow, it will keep raining for days. The tail of the storm could pass on Saturday morning and it could keep raining until Sunday.”