Hurrican Irma Relief


Firstly, I would like to say thank you for reading my story, and if hyou can spare help, anything is appreciated.

My family survived hurricane Irma with no serious physical damage to our bodies, thankfully. However, we have sustained a lot of damage to our house, car, and we're finding more and more damage daily.

I will try to relay our experience during the hurricane as best as I can, and as concisely.

We prepared for days in advance, and because of my amazing mother, who is extraordinarily prepared, we have more than we would have.

My brother spent the hurricane at the restaurant he worked at thinking it would be safest, but during the worst of it, the walls started shaking, and the ceiling started caving in on them. They managed to get out and run to a next door restaurant where a group of them hid in the walk in refrigerator to wait out the storm.

I stayed with my parents, 3 cats, and 4 dogs in their house in Cupecoy. The house we stayed in was supposed to be indestructible. During hurricane Luis (the other major hurricane) this house sustained no damage. However, hurricane Irma was much stronger. Around 3 or 4 in the morning the wind started picking up and we decided to go downstairs in the back room (this room is built into the rock so we though it would be strongest). We still had electricity, and wifi, and it was quite comfortable. Then around 4:30 we started hearing our roof tiles flying off, but there and the pressure was so strong it was hurting our ears. We all huddled in the little closet (strongest spot) when my dad noticed water filling in through the door. We still had electricity, so we were worried about electrocution and had to quickly bail water into the shower drain. Then the power cut out and the wind got really bad. We propped one mattress against the window in the room, but the door was bulging and about to splinter, so my parents both and to throw all their weight on the door just to prevent it from shattering while I huddled in the closet bailing water with the animals. Just when we thought the house room wouldn't hold anymore, the eye came over us and we had a few min to regroup, and re-secure.

At Cupecoy the tiles came off the roof of the house, and there are many leaks in the roof. Upstairs the roll-down shutters were twisted and ripped off and the glass sliding doors were ripped out and some broke. Everything inside was salty and broken. Our TV was on the other side of the room on the floor, and the inside doors splintered and broken. All electronics were in a pool of salt water and broken.
Downstairs the roll-down shutters held, but the glass sliding doors behind it shattered. Salt water was more than ankle deep downstairs, all electronics are fried. The carpeting was destroyed and the tiles need to be replaced as they are all broken up.
We managed to dry the mattresses in the sun, but they are still salty and we are worried the stench cannot come out, and will have to be tossed.
The couch and arm chair are soaked and stained with salt water and will have to be thrown away because there is no repairing them.
The garage is missing a roof, and all of our memories (photos, journals, etc) are drenched in salt water.

Our car is getting us by for hurricane repairs, but there is no fixing it. All the glass was shattered, it was filled with salt water, and many systems are not working properly.
We are looking into buying a replacement car.

At my house by the airport we sustained the most damage. There are 2 boats in front of our house. Our roofs on all the rooms peeled off and we're trying to hold them in place by rope. All out trees came down.
The front glass doors got smashed and flew into the garden. We've propped them back up, but they need to be replaced. All of our rooms and house are covered in salty mud and glass.
We are pretty sure all the electronics are shot (there is salty mud in it).
Our mattresses are all salty and wet and molding. There is no saving them.
It looks like salt water has gotten into the electronics on the fridges, and everything.
The container was destroyed, so we need a new (empty) shipping container, and all our electric tools are fried. We are in desperate need of 2 generators, and tools to rebuild.

As of now we are trying to be optimistic about what we can salvage, but when water and electricity are returned we will try to clean everything and see what we can save.
Looking at things now though, everything is disintegrating, and getting moldy.

Last year I invested every penny to my name (as well as going heavily in debt) to open a restaurant on airport rd. I have lost everything. I have no savings left to my name, a huge debt, and no business. My business was not insured for hurricane damage, so I am not able to claim any insurance relief.

Those of you who know me personally know I never ask for much. Even now, with what little we have left, I am sharing everything I have with my neighbors and friends.

At the moment we have no way of having anything shipped into st. Maarten that I know of, and even when we can ship things in, we pay a lot of money to receive things.

I would like to, as much as possible, buy all my materials, and needs from st. Maarten run small businesses. The economy on the island took a huge hit, and it is up to us all to do our part to rebuild the economy. As much as I'd like for people to ship things down to me, I would prefer to make purchases from local st. Maarteners.

I am estimating prices based off of the cost of things before the hurricane. I'm assuming things will be more expensive after the hurricane.

I will first spend money on repairing the house, and making my place live able again. Then I will spend money on getting reliable transportation, followed by my getting my business operational again, and finally luxuries like replacing my TV putting in air-conditioners (even though that seems more like a necessity because the island is so hot, with no shade, you feel faint around midday).

I have added updates to the list, in brackets, what I've already gotten I have added (HAVE) in front of it, and behind the list I have added some more detailed updates on some stuff.

I'm so proud of St. Maarten, we got hit hard a month ago, but the island looks amazing, everyone has been working so hard to get the place cleaned up. I'm volunteering a few hours a week cooking to raise money for foundations in need as well as donating more than half the food to families in need. It feels great to be doing what I love for people who are so great full. I'm not ready to open the restaurant yet, but I'm evaluating different options so I can open something, even if it's not everything it once was.

To get my house working and livable I will need:

(SALVAGED SOME) Beds (2 single, 2 queen, 3 king) with pillows and bedding.

(HAVE SOME) Lumbar and building materials.

(MORE MANYAL LABOR THAN EXPECTED, STILL WORKING HARD) Manual labor (about $50/day per person) (about 4 guys for 2 weeks should get the stuff I can't do on my own.

(ROOF IS COSTING MUCH MORE THAN EXPECTED, AND TAKING LONGER BUT THERE IS PROGRESS) (what we repaired we found out is still leaking, so it looks like we might have to pull up the roof and redo it) Roof repaired $500 (UPDATE: Half the roof is somewhat repaired, still some leaks, and half of the roof still lets in day light, but someone is coming this week to get more of it done)

(Holding off on this for a while, we've covered the broken one with a tarp and are using it) Empty shipping container $500-$1000

Roll-down shutters $14,000 (UPDATE: Got quotes for the roll-down shutter and replacement glass, now trying to figure out when they can get the supplies on island, and instal them)

Re-tile house $1000+

(Installed one of the doors my dad made) Exterior doors (x4)

Interior doors (X11) 

Glass sliding doors (x4) (UPDATE: Included in the roll-down shutter quote)

Appliances: stove ($200), fridge ($800), washing machine ($?), drier ($?), dish washer ($?), microwave

Furniture: couch (x2), desk (x3), desk chair (x3), book shelves.
At the time I spent $600 per IKEA bookshelf and desk set, but I'm going to try find something cheaper, or make it ourselves (including getting it here)

(Update: our generator arrived, but was damaged beyond repair in shipping so we're in the process of putting the insurance claim in and getting the new one shipped) 2 portable generators (UPDATE, we got one, it should get here in a week)

(HAVE) Solar power stations (really ANYTHING solar powered)  (UPDATE: We found our old solar panel and inverter, and it was miraculously working, also got a portable solar inverter)

(HAVE) Battery operated power tools (with craftsman battery charger and a spare batteries)

(HAVE) Flashlights

Air conditioners (x4) ($600 per unit)

Desalination or reverse osmosis system?

What we desperately need, but can buy in st. Maarten (just an issue of low on money)

(HAVE the food stores are open again with limited supply, but no risk of food shortage anymore) Food! (I've been feeding my friends and neighbors, but quickly running low, food stores are open, but they are expensive, and I'm running out of money).

(HAVE) Water

(HAVE) Batteries

(HAVE FOOD HAVEN'T GOTTEN MEDICINE ON ISLAND YET) Dog + cat food and medicine. I've got a bunch of animals, and I'm feeding the animals near me. During the storm many animals got loose and we can't find the owners with most of the island still having communication issues. I've been feeding them all as best I can, but I think I've only got enough food left for 1 week.
(UPDATE: All the dogs I was feeding got returned to their homes [YAY!] so I have enough for my pets, and the few that wonder up every now and then to see me)

To get reliable transportation:

I have put transportation issues on hold. We've managed to get the car fixed up with plastic, and we hear the government will be lenient this year with cars that aren't up to normal specs. 
We will have to start saving up, and looking into car options in the future, but until January 1st we don't have to worry about the car.

To get my restaurant open:

Lumbar (to rebuild) $200

Labor $200

Stove $600

Freezer $1,200

Fridge $1,200 (UPDATE: One of the suppliers I used gave me a mini drink-fridge, and it will be enough to let me open, and save up for a real fridge at some point)

Tables and chairs $800 (UPDATE: Someone donated one table that is AMAZING)

Glasses, cutlery, serving dishes (the majority fell and got smashed) $600 (UPDATE: To open up, I am going to use as a temporary measure disposable stuff until I can get the real stuff)

Air conditioner $600 

Pots and pans, cooking dishes. (UPDATE: I got a few amazing ones donated)

(HAVE SOME) Solar lights

Luxury items to make things much more comfortable.

Nearing on a month without electricity (we got water last night, and I had a shower with running water for the first time in a while, it was the most spectacular thing) we have re-evaluated our lives, and found new passions in different directions (drawing, and letter writing), we are so grateful for all the love, friendship, and family we have, that those are our luxuries. 

Router so we can re-connect internet (ours got fried) $250

Anything anyone could spare would be greatly appreciated, that said, this page was primarily created to share our story, huricane Irma was a game changer. I know everyone is hurting. I will post as many updates as possible.

I currently only have internet when I drive to the airport. Please share my story with anyone you think may be interested.

And again,

Thank you for listening to me.

Marianne Marchant.

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Marianna May 
United States
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