Hurricane Irma Maternity Relief Aid

My family and I have been hit with some of the hardest imaginable trials and tribulations as a result of HURRICANE IRMA, which hit our home on St. Maarten on Wednesday September 6, 2017 with unprecedented strength! This hurricane may very well define a new CATEGORY 6 or 7 on the Saffir Hurricane Scale. As a result we have lost all of our belongings. Our home is no longer livable, especially with no access to fresh water or electricity, and we have no transportation as both our cars have been totaled.  We have since been evacuated and displaced from St. Maarten, to live under my parent’s roof in Madison, NJ until further notice. When the storm hit, I was 8.5mths pregnant and was caring for my 11mth old daughter. Now I am almost full term at 10mths and am scheduled to have my second C-Section surgery on November 10th at Overlook Hospital in Summit, NJ. Unfortunately, my insurance company from St. Maarten is not willing to cover more than $1,300.00 USD in “Maternity Benefits.” As most of you from this area know, this will not even cover getting my foot in the door. Hence, we are pleading for support and funding to try to help us overcome the outrageous bills we will be subjected to once all services are rendered from Overlook. We have not chosen these set of circumstances and have endured an endless list of hardships since leaving our home, and the stress of the financial reality has finally hit us in an unprecedented way. We are embarrassed and ashamed to have become a “charity case,” and we never expected to be in this situation. But we hope people’s hearts will be touched by our circumstances, and charity assistance will be offered. One day we hope to “pay it forward” and help others in need, the way you all have opted to help us!

This is the story of our recent lives over the last two months up to today:

·         On Wednesday September 6, 2017 Hurricane IRMA hit St. Maarten. We experienced 200mph+ winds and 250mph+ gusts for four (4) consecutive hours.

·         It ended up taking us almost three (3) days to get in contact with anyone, even our local family members. We were unable to leave our area due to heavy debris along all major roadways and were forced to walk to surrounding areas, described as having “cell services.” Even then we were only able to make one contact.

·         After four (4) days we left our bunker to find our entire island of St. Maarten completely devastated and decimated. Our home and cars were also destroyed.

·         We found a car to get around and check on our extended family and friends and we saw that most buildings, homes and commercial spaces, had been destroyed and very little livable space remained. All businesses were lost, including food stores. What was left in stores had been looted and no food, medical supplies or water supplies had been left for the majority of residents as a result.

·         The hospital of St. Maarten, SMMC, was operational only for emergency cases. They had also been looted and many medical supplies were lacking, including antibiotics. They likewise had no running water and as a result no surgeries could be performed.

·         Groups of criminals had begun looting government and military buildings and stole all weapons available. My family and I were threatened by these groups on two occasions! In fear for our safety we fled the area where we bunkered to seek other shelter amongst friends. 

·         On Sunday, September 10th 2017, I had the option to be evacuated. My daughter and I stood in the blazing hot sun from 6:30am – 1:00pm to board that flight. And the entire boarding process took two (2) hours.

·         I was finally evacuated with my daughter Lyra (born in St. Maarten and currently not recognized as a US citizen) from St. Maarten via US AIRFORCE, in a C-130 CARGO plane to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Rules were very specific and we were not allowed to leave with any luggage. Therefore, I was evacuated with very few of my remaining belongings.

·         I was notified by a US EMBASSY REP that I would be “penalized” for opting to take the EVAC flight. A“Promissory Note” of an arbitrary amount (still not disclosed) would be billed to me and my US PASSPORT would be rendered INVALID as of September 17th, 2017. I would not be allowed to renew my passport until said bill was paid. I have still not received a bill or a way to renew my passport.

·         My daughter and I fainted from heat stroke on the cargo flight and air force soldiers were forced to attend to us. Once we landed in Puerto Rico it took three (3) hours to register as a refugee and gain accommodations.

·         My husband was forced to stay behind as he is not a US CITIZEN and was not welcome to take the same EVAC flight. He opted to stay also to help his family and try to recover what he could of our lives. I was without him or his help until October 31st, 2017.

·         I petitioned my local Congressman Rodney P. Frelinghuysen for help to expedite my husband’s Green Card Application, my daughter Lyra’s US Passport Application and to help speed up the process of getting my own passport re-issued and validated.

·         The Congressman’s offices DID indeed get through with expedition of Green Card Services, but my daughter and I are still without US passports to date (November 1st 2017).

·         I was told by my insurance company in St. Maarten that by opting to take the EVAC flight to the USA, versus Curacao (another Dutch island), I would be penalized as they would not cover full medical expenses. In fact they decided they would only cover $1,300.00 USD worth of expenses.

·         This $1300.00 USD would have to cover all of the following: OBGYN Well Visits, Sonograms, Eventual C-Section Surgery, Spinal, Anesthesia, Recovery Care, Overnight Stays, Pediatric and Neonatal Services.

·         I was told by Overlook Hospital that the raw costs for all of the aforementioned services, without insurances, amount to $11,000.00.

I have since attempted to apply for “Charity Care Rates” within the Overlook Hospital Financial Department and was turned away, being instructed to apply for either Medicare or Obama Care. Neither plan would cover me immediately and would be exorbitantly expensive and would also hurt the chances of my husband’s Green Card Application going through.

·         As it stands my husband and I are left to assume the responsibility of paying back $11,000.00USD out of pocket. I am TWO WEEKS (2) away from delivery and am running out of time to find a solution!! And my husband cannot live or work within the US without the proper legal documentation. And I will likewise be unable to work for the first six (6) weeks after my scheduled C-section.

These are some links to show proof of the devastation and process we have endured:

1) Dutch King - Willem Alexander's quote regarding the state in St. Maarten:

Dutch King, Willem-Alexander, who visited St. Maarten on Monday September 11, 2017 says, "I've never experienced anything like this before and I've seen a lot of natural disasters in my life. I've seen a lot of war zones in my life, but I've never seen anything like this."

2) St. Martin On The Verge Of Civil War:

3) Video of Melissa's SXM TO SJU Airlift
  • Pamela&Chris Pennisi 
    • $25 
    • 45 mos
  • Matt Harrison 
    • $250 
    • 45 mos
  • Ranjani Paradise 
    • $50 
    • 46 mos
  • Liz Heisler 
    • $50 
    • 46 mos
  • Megan Wianecki 
    • $100 
    • 46 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Anne Chapman 
Martinsville, NJ
Susan Uziel-Fusi 
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more