St Maarten in the Caribbean was destroyed by category 5 hurricane Irma on September 6th, 2017. In one giant 6 hour blow our future flew away, hopefully to return again after we've rebuilt our sweet slice of paradise.
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We were lucky, because our house survived, but many of our neighbours don't have their roof, or parts thereof, and had a lot of water damage or lost their stuff because it was simply blasted away.
I'm asking your help to rebuild our community. People I have in mind:
- Chevonne's dad from next door who lost his taxi, his source of income is total loss
- Yvonne's house roof is gone partially
- Walter 'the Cat man' had windows of his truck blasted away, he needs it to truck away all the debris, and for his job in construction (very much needed right now!!)
- Our neighbour across lost a window in his house, had water damage and the garden gate is gone
- The Indian family across in the blue house lost their entire roof and then the floor caved in due to water, so they also weren't safe when they decided to hide in the studio below
- The Fun 'N Learn Kids Preschool - where my kids have gone for years - has lost the back of the building and all the baby equipment such as cribs etc
- Our Seagrape Tours van has lost a window and needs bodywork (Year 2007, right side, middle side window, if you have one lying around..?? Loads of car parts are needed too on the island)
- Our daughters' school has lost the roof and the outdoor play equipment has flown into the classrooms, most learning materials are damaged
The hurricane brought a lot of damage and heartsore and we all went into survival mode, with no water and electricity now already for more than a week. Including a week long curfew which prevented us from replenishing our food and water stocks.
So many good things happened after Irma in our multi cultural neighbourhood as well however, we've grown into a tight knit community:
- We started sharing rain water for flushing toilets and washing
- Fish was cooked for the cat man by the neighbour across, which he doesn't eat but had to try anyway because beggars can't be choosers
- People helped clearing up the debris in each others' yards
- We helped fixing the neighbour's blown away rain gutter so they could collect water again
- Our other neighbours we warned about the loads of water on their flat roof, so it wouldn't cave in and then assisted them in clearing the rain gutters and cutting the drain pipes to lead them into containers, since all water was diverted to the street originally. (Tip for home owners on St Martin: have a cistern, pool or water tank in case of emergency!!)
- The homeless Indian family stayed with another family in the street
- The people with generators would keep phones charged in case we would have connectivity again
- Neighbours walked across to warn others about what they had heard on the radio, there's one channel broadcasting atm called Laser101
- We kept a night watch to fend off looters, the latest 'Pirates of the Caribbean'...
- People who were complete strangers to each other before, now started sharing hot cups of tea or a cold can of coke, which is a luxury if you don't have power
My daughters and I are now in Holland, so I'm able to go online and raise funds for our community, send the kids to school and look for a job. David my husband has stayed behind to help getting the island back together again by salvaging underwater wreckage.
One of the reasons I'm looking for a job in Holland is so we can keep paying rent to our landlord, who lost his shop in Philipsburg, to the storm and then looters took what was left of it. We're grateful he renovated our house in 2014 and it withstood Irma. Bless you Kamal!
I would be so grateful for your support, on behalf of my neigbourhood as well. The whole island needs a lot of fixing up before we can welcome YOU - the visitors of The Friendly Island - back, and start make a living in the place we call home again.
Thank you very very much. Any amount is appreciated.
Tour Guide and Owner
St Martin's History, Birding, Nature and Art Tours
For more photos and updates: https://www.facebook.com/seagrapetours/
- Michael O'Connor
- Bas Van der Sanden
- Hannah Madden
- Marjolijne van der Stoep
- Marcos Andrade Nascimento
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