Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin brought back some good tidings from her recent working visit to Brussels (see related story). The European Commission (EC) made 7 million euros available to build two multi-purpose shelters here.

This is a major step in making the country more resistant to natural disasters in the future. Government has designated eight shelters for this hurricane season, but some are still pending repairs, maintenance and/or improvements.

Moreover, they are not originally intended as such and are used for other important, community-based activities. Two are also schools, which is obviously not ideal especially if people sheltering there have nowhere to stay once the calamity has passed.

To address this problem five separate recovery centres were added for the first time, to basically serve as sleeping halls if needed. However, as it regards sports facilities including three school gyms, that too isn’t the best of solutions.

While nothing was said about possible locations, in terms of logistics it would in any case make sense to have one on either side of Cole Bay Hill. Wanting to start after the current hurricane season is understandable, but it would be nice if they could try to finish before at least the height of the next one in 2020.

Another bit of welcome news was the prime minister’s stated commitment to the EC’s Department of Development Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean towards the joint sewage plant with the French side for the greater Cole Bay area, for which European funding had been earmarked. Recent observations by St. Maarten Nature Foundation have again indicated how much damage wastewater pollution is doing to the island’s marine life.

Mind you, this involves the lagoon, inlets, bays and sea, as well as – consequently – beaches. As these are primary reasons guests visit the destination in the first place, the problem directly affects the tourism economy that ultimately provides for the livelihood of practically the entire population.

Please get it done.