Municipalities offer help to St. Maarten

THE HAGUE–An Association of Dutch Municipalities VNG delegation visited the Windward Islands last week to identity the areas where the organisation and the Dutch municipalities can assist with the islands’ structural recovery in the coming years.

Together with the Dutch municipalities, VNG’s division for international cooperation, VNG International, will assist in various areas relating to disaster management, particularly in St. Maarten as this island needs the most help and because the recovery here would have a positive impact on St. Eustatius and Saba, which are experiencing low hotel occupancy.
In consultation with the St. Maarten Government, VNG International will work on updating and strengthening disaster plans, as well as the execution and communication of these plans. VNG International will also assist with the reinforcing of community councils and their role in the disaster plans.
Furthermore, VNG International will provide support to keep data current as it relates to the Census and the managing of domain affairs. Funds that will be used for this support are largely coming from the individual Dutch municipalities which have been making contributions available after Hurricane Irma.
Fifty per cent of the funds that were donated by the municipalities will go directly towards the recovery assistance by the VNG while other half is passed on to the Netherlands Red Cross which has been working on the island for the past three months.
Currently, the Red Cross is assisting with the repairs of some 1,000 homes, mostly of the vulnerable groups in society such as the elderly, handicapped, single mothers and financially impaired persons. Also, meals are prepared twice a day for some 4,000 children at the schools. Supermarket vouchers have been distributed, soon to be followed by building material vouchers.
While in St. Maarten, it struck the VNG International delegation members that Philipsburg was rather quiet whereas normally during the high season the town would be busy with cruise tourists, and that the few hotels that were open did not have many guests.

Source: The Daily Herald