As most of you know from the news or personal experience, 2017 has been an extremely destructive hurricane season - everyone affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria all have a story to tell and all have immediate needs. In the early morning hours of September 6, monster Hurricane Irma, category 5+, took a direct path over our beloved St. Maarten. She also took a direct path over the Morton’s beloved home.
Although they are by far not the only ones facing devastation, my heart goes out to my dear friend Janet, her lovely daughter Summer, and her tough as nails husband Shag, who lost their roof and most of their belongings when Hurricane Irma swept over St. Maarten. The images posted here speak for themselves. Afraid for their lives at the time? - they prayed and are not religious people. Listening to their roof tearing off above their heads? - heart breaking. The sounds of glass and mirrors breaking and the hurricane shutter blowing into their house causing havoc? - terrifying. Water pouring down the stairs to the safe place where they were that they now affectionately call “the Bunker,” - crazy.
Their house is paid off but not insured, meaning that they have to access Shag’s pension to rebuild their home – Shag will be 71 next May. They did not ask me, or any one of their many friends, for help, in fact when I finally got through to Janet to ask her how she and her family were doing, she was incredibly positive and upbeat, telling me that they had already cleared away a huge amount of debris, had an engineer and builder come to assess the damage and structural stability of the remains of their home, and that they were able to salvage about a quarter of their belongings. In the end, she said, we have our lives and a shell of our house. Thankfully, the concrete structure of their home is sound she said, and they already have plans on how to rebuild, starting with a concrete roof – one day at a time. What remains is that amazing view of the beautiful sea… and remembering their doors have always been open to friends to come visit, including me.
When I mentioned that I wanted to set up a “GoFundMe” account for their family, they were touched and grateful, and gave the idea much thought, considering that they are people used to pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. With so many friends from all over the world reaching out to them in the aftermath of Irma asking what they can do to help, they finally agreed to let me help them this way.
The aftermath of Hurricane Irma has been hard to say the least for all who have stayed on the island. Priority for the first couple of weeks was finding shelter, drinking water, and safety while neighbors pooled together their food, dining by candlelight to the sounds of generators.
For the first 25 days after Irma, Janet, Shag, Summer, and their amazing dog Ginger stayed in their friend Kelly’s one-bedroom apartment with another family, Colette and Arthur, and they all laugh at how 4 adults, one teenager, one kid, three dogs, and a hamster made the best of it, sleeping on mattresses on the floor but not letting their spirits down. Summer happily returned back to school last week, helping to give some sense of normalcy to their lives.
All donations will go towards buying the materials they need to rebuild their home. You can help buy 25 new windows, a LOT of concrete, rebar, tie wire, nails, construction plastic, ply form, dry wall screws, 2x4’s, epoxy, 9 interior doors, 2 balcony doors, gallons of paint, kitchen cupboards, floor tiles, a new oven, ceiling fans, and fencing. By donating, each and every one of you will be purchasing a little piece of their home.
Thanks so much to all of you who want to help the Mortons - SXM Strong - Morton Family Strong!
Lots of love and a big Thank You! from
Karin Van der Plas
- Jackie robertson
- Cara Gray
- The Northettes
- Michael Catani
- Katie Prentice
Organizer and beneficiary
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