There is Much to Be Thankful For on Sint Maarten As Hurricane Maria Passes

via @jonathanfalwell Twitter

After taking a direct hit from a category five hurricane, it’s not hard to imagine that life on the small Dutch/French island would be much different than it was before the storm. We’ve all seen the images of destruction, not a spec of the island remained untouched.

Following the passing of Irma, just three days later, Hurricane Jose looked like it would hit Sint Maarten but didn’t, passing just to the north with very little impact. In the end, Jose’s only menace was the delay it caused in the cleanup effort and in getting relief aid fully distributed to the people of the island.

Just one week later another category five hurricane — Maria — slowly built steam as it moved towards the Leeward Islands. Again, Sint Maarten was spared. The impact of Maria was more prominent than Jose, with heavy rain and higher sustained winds, but in the end Maria’s impact was much more forgiving than a direct hit would have been. It was a good bit of fortune for an island in short supply of it.

The island has managed to dodge two major storms so far in it’s ever-changed post-Irma world. A second direct hit could have done unimaginable amounts of damage. It could have been something that the island may never have been able to recover from, irregardless of how much support we all send.

Thankfully, starting at 6 am local time on Thursday, September 21, 2017, when the curfew on the island is lifted, the people of the Friendly Island will once again get back to rebuilding. Hopefully there will soon be a formal long-term rebuild plan in place. That plan will be the backbone necessary to provide guidance and priority to what and when things get done.

There’s been reports of resident’s lacking food, and the garbage situation on the island is starting to turn ugly. Reportedly, Belvedere, Sucker Garden, and Cupe Coy feel totally forgotten. Not to mention, the government is said to have been slowing the recovery process down more than helping to speed it up.

In the days just after Hurricane Jose had passed, there were many reports of food and relief still not being distributed to the people who needed it most. The level of accountability within the ranks of the Sint Maarten government seems to have sunken to a new low.

Fortunately, there is plenty of time and opportunity for the government and the citizens to come together and start anew. While it’s understandable that people would expect their government to be able to coordinate and organize relief efforts and food distribution, the people of Sint Maarten understand that the cleanup and recovery must be done as a community united.

There are currently several relief organizations on the island providing aid — the French and Dutch Red Cross, and Samaritan’s Purse to name a few — but the rebuild effort is really an ‘all hands on deck’ exercise. Every capable person on the island will likely participate in pulling the community back together. The sooner it happens, the sooner commercial flights will resume, the sooner cruise ships will return, the sooner the economy can start to rebuild.

With the passing of Jose and Maria, there is much to be thankful for on the island of Sint Maarten. The beauty of the island lives as much now as ever and will continue to flourish more and more every single day. As aid continues to come in, electricity and water are restored, and the cleanup efforts continue, the sense of normalcy will eventually return.

However, the only way that the island can fully recover is through sustained giving. Please consider a sustained giving program to help Sint Maarten recover. Give every day, every week, every month, whatever makes the most sense for you personally. The need on this island is enormous. Please donate today.

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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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