PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The early morning of September 6, 2017, is a morning that none of us residing on St. Maarten/St. Martin and Anguilla will ever forget. That morning, the strongest Hurricane ever recorded on the Saffir-Simpson scale struck our island. Thousands of homes were damaged. Many persons lost their homes completely. Our economy came to a complete standstill. Our lives changed forever.
The Category 5 hurricane slammed into our little island, and wreaked havoc. No one was untouched. Flooding, the likes of which we had never seen before, was recorded on the French Side, while Dutch Side residents battled 250+mph winds in a struggle to preserve their homes and belongings. That is a battle that was lost, along with a number of lives.
Shellshocked persons emerged from their hiding places, and surveyed the damage, rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
“We are now 5 years removed from that catastrophic event. Yet, 5 years, 60 months, almost 1,826 days later, persons are still struggling with the aftermath of Irma. To date, many persons are still jobless as a number of businesses have not been able to reopen. To date, only a few hundred homes have been fixed. To date, we have persons still homeless. Some moved back in with families, others have resorted to squatting. To date, we have persons sleeping in their cars, persons living in abandoned buildings in town and alleys. To date, we have so many persons suffering from mental health. To date, we have schools without ceiling fans, schools without functioning windows or fixed roofs, students sharing the space at other schools as their school cannot function as school anymore,” Gromyko Wilson stated.
“5 years, 60 months, almost 1,826 days and 550,000,000 Euros later.”
“Yet they put on their expensive suits and dresses and tell you how we have bounced back from Irma. How we resilient we are. How the economy will look in 2023. Ask yourself, 5 years, 60 months, almost 1,826 days and 550,000,000 Euros later, doesn’t St. Maarten deserve better? Doesn’t St. Maarten deserve politicians who will act in times of crises? Ask them how many homes they have rebuilt since Irma. They will say thousands. The real numbers barely pass a hundred. They will tell you they paid for training for persons in the tourism sector after Irma. Truth is they paid for the employees of a selective group of businesses. Not the mom-and-pop stores nor the local guest houses,” observed Wilson.
These are simply a few of the challenges our people are facing 5 years after Irma. Stay tuned for Part 2.
Things we should not forget !!!!