Watch: Powerful Message From Man Who Survived Hurricane Irma at Sonesta Maho Beach

As you can guess, I’ve seen and heard many images and stories from the impact of Hurricane Irma on Sint Maarten. And as much as our society tries, there’s really no measuring stick for tragedies.

Sure, we can compare Irma to prior storms, because that’s all we have to compare the situation to, but every time disaster hits — big or small — it has an unforeseen and unavoidable impact on people’s lives that cannot be measured or compared, as much as we may try.

Every tragedy that happens in life, regardless of how many lives it impacts, is completely unique to those whose lives it touches. As a society what we — those who survive — can do is help, take time to lend a hand to those in need. I believe helping is our duty to each other, our brothers and sisters on this earth.

I’ll readily admit I had never heard of Jonathan Falwell before Hurricane Irma. I quickly discovered him on the morning of Wednesday, September 6, 2017, when his were some of the first photos to hit social media showing the devastation of the storm (see more of them here).

Falwell was staying at the Sonesta Maho Beach when Hurricane Irma hit. In the video below, Falwell, who is a pastor in Virginia, recounts his experience in a very eloquent and touching way. He talks about his encounter during the storm, seeing the devastation after, and what he’s done to help since (a lot!). He also¬†mentions a time lapse video (see it here) that he mounted in his room that was totally destroyed by the storm.

This man’s made quite a difference and he attributes that to God putting him in the right place at the right time, stating, “It’s a shame when God opens a door if we don’t walk through it.”

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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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