One year later and many homes are still without a roof, World Bank Funds now making its way to St. Maarten.

~PM, IRC, and Steering Committee for World Bank Failing~

PHILIPSBURG: — On September 6th, 2017 almost everything on St. Maarten changed, the landscape and infrastructure on the island took a heavy beating from hurricane Irma which packed windspeed of up to 225mph when it crossed the Leeward Islands.
St. Maarten/ St. Martin suffered immensely as 95% of the buildings on the island were destroyed. Some beyond repair. Homes of the rich and famous along with the middle and lower-class citizens were all damaged one way or another. It was the only time when almost every man, woman and child was at the same level as every household had to struggle to pass each day. Food and water supply were scarce, some homes got more than others.
Everyone on the island was in darkness at one time or another. Even those with generators suffered through the darkness. People from all walks of life turned to the mass looting that destroyed the island more than the hurricanes itself.
The damage to the islands’ ports of entry placed a huge dent on the economy. At one point several parts of the island looked more like a ghost town. Hillsides were all brown, the greenery was gone within a few hours while zinc sheets and other debris blocked every roadway, yards, and alleys.
Despite the lack of communication and other vital necessities and an unstable government on one side of the island the people managed to recoup and began working hand in hand with those that were ready to work towards recovery.
Cleaning up took quite some time on both sides, some residents made the effort to clean their properties while some just ignored the call of duty.
Recovery seemed impossible but one year later, the people of St. Maarten displayed their strength and resilience as life began returning to normal even though the country’s main port of entry is operating at less than 50% residents and visitors are able to move in and out as freely as possible.
Still, there are many supermarkets, schools, pharmacies, doctor’s clinic and other main institutions that remain closed while the streets are still very dark in several areas on both sides of the island which created a threat to safety and security.
One institution that suffered and still cannot function optimally is the Post Office on the Dutch side.
French Quarter still does not have a Pharmacy and Post Office. Internet and landlines in the French Quarter and several other areas no longer exist.
Many homes are still roofless, and families are without jobs, and the major set back is due to the prolonged waiting on the recovery funds that were promised to the islands both French and Dutch.
Just recently the World Band released some 55M United States Dollars since they are the ones selected to manage the Recovery Funds made available by the Netherlands. According to information released USD25M was given to the St. Maarten Medical Center while the other USD 30M to the Government of St. Maarten. A year later and the much-needed funds have not trickled down to the people as yet while less than 10% of the promised funds have not yet been released.
Clearly the Prime Minister of St. Maarten is failing at her job since she is not taking a grip on the Interim Recovery Committee (IRC) to get projects off the ground.
Another failure is coming directly from the Steering Committee for the World Bank. St. Maarten/ St. Martin is in the peak of the hurricane season, at least three tropical depressions and or storms are brewing in the Atlantic and to date, not one home (roof) was fixed from the promised 550M Euros neither were hurricane shelters repaired or fixed in the event of a disaster.
Government instability on the Dutch side created more of a havoc for the residence while some politicians played politics when their constituents were at their lowest. Many of them said they threw the government down because they wanted to make sure St. Maarten comply with the demands of the Dutch so that the recovery funds reach the people, yet one year later and the promised funds are now being made available in small sums and the current coalition does nothing to see where the funds that were allocated by the Netherlands are going, certainly consultants for the World Bank will devour most of the funds.
Nine months after Marlin’s government was forced out office the people are still waiting. The NGO’s received money to carry out projects earlier on while Government and much-needed institutions are still waiting. Schools and other vital institutions still have to be renovated or rebuilt.
Speaking to some residents their nightmare is far from over, a single mother with two children still living in deplorable condition as the cleaning crew could not make it in the yard that has several homes. An elderly man living in the same yard said that he has a heart condition, and, on his birthday, he was trying to fix a leaky roof that housed his daughter and her children. Damaged concrete blocks were thrown all over the yard as the families there has no access by vehicle to their properties in Grand Case. Besides the debris from the damaged homes, there was household garbage thrown around in the same yard that has electricity wires hanging very low.
Another mother said she has three young children and is still trying to find a decent home to live in. “At the moment I am staying in a house without windows and it is leaking. Electricity wires are hanging all over and I have three young children. I applied for a government house while I am also looking to see if I could find an apartment to rent from private citizens. I am working but if I don’t find a home for my family I will be forced to leave my island and return to Guadeloupe.” Some families are still seeking refuge at family members and friends while some of those that left the island shortly after Irma are now returning.
On the French side, several schools are closed, at least two in Cul de Sac and the Nina Duverly school in Marigot will not be rebuilt nor reopened. Up to last week, residents were still collecting household items from the Nina Duverly School that sheltered many family’s months after Irma’s devastation.
The main street in Grand Case that is known on the French side to have the best cuisines are still suffering as most of the buildings that housed restaurants are still not repaired, some of those buildings have to be demolished and rebuilt clearly that will take much more time if the property owners are able to reconstruct. The access road is almost inaccessible.
Clearly, some businesses are struggling to stay open to cater to the island visitors while they wait on government to begin fixing the roads and infrastructure. On Tuesday the Municipal Police Outpost was demolished, hopefully, it will be reconstructed better than it was before.
Even though it’s one year since Irma’s devastation, the destruction is still visible as one drives around. Government departments are displaced, many services are also delayed due to the lack of space and working equipment.
On Fish-Pot Road in Sandy Ground, a huge sailboat is still stuck in a home and the owner of that vessel is nowhere to be found. Sandy Ground is one of the areas that was severely hit with heavy flooding and wind damage, however, the residents are beginning to settle in even though cleaning up of that area took way longer than it should have.
Local Cable providers are still busy installing fiber optic cable in order to provide Cable TV to residents that still do not have the services. Internet providers (Telecommunication) providers are the ones that profited from the total devastation while they also suffer infrastructural damage. Cost of the internet services escalated as most people simply cannot function without the internet connection. Providers such as Dauphin is selling internet Data boxes that are much more-costly for limited internet services. The damage done to the antennas on Pic Paradise has left several districts without internet services while telephone lines will not be installed in the very near future.
On the Dutch side, the outcry is also loud as the services provided by UTS and TELEM are not what it should be. Overall St. Maarten/ St. Martin and its people displayed resilience and are on the road to recovery day by day.

Click here to view a few photos one year after Irma’s passage.

Source: St. Martin News Network