Dutch King Willem-Alexander Visits Sint Maarten, Witnesses a Community United

Dutch King Willem-Alexander couldn’t believe what he was seeing as his flight came in to land at Princess Juliana International Airport, “I could see it already from the plane – I’ve never experienced anything like it.” He added, “I’ve seen plenty of destruction in my time from wars and natural disasters, but I’ve never seen this.”

But if anything stuck with him it was the incredible unity of the community, “You can see people are working hard to clear it all up. They’re saying ‘we’re standing together shoulder to shoulder and we’re going to rebuild this island.’ They believe in the future.”

The news came immediately that the European Union has set up a fund of two billion euro for disaster relief to help begin to restore life on Sint Maarten back to normal.

If you aren’t there now, or if you haven’t been there since the hurricane, which I haven’t, it’s so hard to imagine everything the people of Sint Maarten have been through. I listen everyday to Laser 101 FM — as I’m doing now — and I hear callers trying to get basic information, like where to get water and food or medicine for sick loved ones.

But if there’s one thing that really sticks out to me, it’s all the people I hear call in that are so filled with a wondrous spirit and love for each other. The attitude of the people of this island is astounding. This community is coming together like no other community has. I will be reporting to you all of the wonderful things that are going to be happening there during the rebuild.

It’s heartbreaking to know a place I love so much is going through all of this. That’s why I started SXM Strong on Wednesday, as soon as I woke up to the news that the island was under siege by the hurricane. If you love the island as much I do, please give to help them rebuild.

Here are a few posts that show the highlights of the King’s visit to the island:

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Jon Ferlise

I fell in love with the island of Saint Martin the first time I visited to celebrate my 40th birthday in May of 2009. Since then, I've spent most birthdays there, and have visited countless other times getting to know this wonderful place and the friendly locals that make it so special. I adore the culture, the people, the community, and the beauty of this stunning island. SXM Strong is a website that I started to support humanitarian relief efforts following Hurricane Irma. There was no plan, it just evolved as I witnessed the devastation that Irma caused the island and the huge need to communicate and disseminate information about what had happened and how people could help support this island and its people.

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