MARIGOT–Director-General of SEMSAMAR Marie-Paule Belenus-Romana, at a press lunch Monday, gave an overview of the emergency actions taken in the wake of Hurricane Irma to help the tenants of its residences, as well as giving details of damages to the company’s infrastructure and social housing projects.
Representatives from the various sectors of the company were present as well as the elected Collectivité representatives serving on the board. Belenus-Romana noted the company was immediately mobilised to help the population during an operation dubbed “Friendly Lyannag.”
Even before the arrival of Irma a crisis centre was set up in Guadeloupe and a second crisis centre established in St. Martin after Irma had passed. One of its first actions was to give over a floor of the SEMSAMAR headquarters to the Collectivité so it could operate. It then evaluated the situation with the tenants and families living in the company’s residences and apartments.
Teams outside of St. Martin were mobilized to purchase supplies and materials, solicit donations and food and water for transfer to St. Martin. Planes and boats were organized to transport goods. A distribution system was organized in the districts with associations and a pool of contractors was identified to make emergency repairs.
SEMSAMAR’s satellite agencies in St. Martin and Guadeloupe such as SAMAGEST, EME St. Martin, EME Guadeloupe, and SEM Ta Route gave assistance to families.
Over15 days, SEMSAMAR mobilized 100 persons, not including volunteers, to assist 2,000 families and tenants; 11 round trips by private plane were made between Grand Case and Guadeloupe and hundreds of persons transported. A dozen boats were chartered and some 600 tons of freight unloaded in St. Martin. As many as 306 persons were evacuated on the vessel “Express des Iles” chartered by SEMSAMAR.
On the situation with its tenants, Belenus-Romana disclosed 50 had to be relocated urgently, 105 apartments were deemed inhabitable, 75 of which will not be used as rentals again; 240 families will have to be relocated when renovation work starts on apartments. Hurricane Irma also destroyed 60 per cent of the company’s villas and apartments in the residences of Paradise and La Barriere. These villas and apartments were due to be sold this year.
Marina Fort Louis suffered 75 per cent damage and Marina Port La Royale was effectively 100 per cent destroyed. Both marinas are managed by SAMAGEST. Marina Fort Louis’s Assistant Manager Lisa Barrot explained the complexity of Marina Port La Royale being a marina surrounded by private buildings and shops whereas Marina Fort Louis is a simpler case to address as it has no buildings attached to it.
She noted SAMAGEST and the Collectivité will study how best to renovate Marina Port La Royale taking into consideration the marina, shops and restaurants have always been a prime tourist attraction.
In conclusion, SEMSAMAR is already working on renovation and reconstruction of its inventory. Experts have evaluated the total cost of repair/ reconstruction work for social housing, businesses, public administrative buildings, and marinas to be over 72 million euros; 30 million euros is covered by insurance but still leaving 42 million not covered.