As some of you may know St. Maarten is a tiny island in the Caribbean. At 37 sq. miles, it is the smallest island in the world to be shared by two nations, French and Dutch. With a population of more than 77,000 people and with over 120 nationalities, St. Maarten is one the very diverse Caribbean islands. And I am from this beautiful little island. I grew up in what’s considered a tiny fishing village called Simpson Bay. Our backyard was a beach. This is where my cousins, siblings and I would bond after school on a hot day or simply every day. Chill on the beach until the sun had set. St. Maarten is also known as the friendly island or sunshine city. But, on Tuesday, the 5th of September, 2017 all of that changed within a matter of hours.
St. Maarten was hit directly by a category 5 hurricane named Irma. With wind gust up to 180 mph, it has been described as the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storm.
Being helpless far away from home You have probably no idea what it feels like to be helpless and far away from what you know as home. Away from family without contact for days. During my second week of university this was my reality. At the beginning of the hurricane I was in a group chat with all my family members and they were explaining exactly what was going on for about an hour. Then immediately all conversations seized and I didn’t hear from anyone until the eye of the storm. At this moment i realised that this hurricane was no joke.
What happend to my family My aunt went into her bathroom with a mattress to protect her and her son from flying debris, her roof had disappeared and she had to immediately run over to my uncle’s house for shelter.
This is my aunts house, destroyed by the hurricane.
My dad sent me pictures of how high the water was and it was coming into the house. Also, an antenna we had on the roof of his house had blown off and was in the yard.
Damaged island As some of you may know, the eye of the hurricane is the calmest part of the hurricane. The eye lasted about 30 to 45 minutes and people who lost their homes got a chance to find shelter. Then the second part of the hurricane started and did it's final damages to my beautiful island. Some people described the hurricane winds as the most terrifying sounds they’ve ever heard in their lives. Some people experienced very traumatizing situations during and after the hurricane. There were also about 10 fatalities on both French and Dutch sides combine, may their souls rest in peace.
After the hurricane people went into survival mode, it got very serious very quickly. People started looting and robbing, St. Maarten was in dire need of governance but there were inefficient resources to keep the population under control. Military was shipped in to finally get things under control by putting a curfew in place.
Your donation is welcome! As crazy as it may sound, most, if not all, St. Maarten students here in Holland or abroad in different countries felt that we needed to go back home to support and help our families rebuild from this disastrous hurricane. We felt completely helpless. So, I decided to join with three other HZ Student from St. Maarten (Matthew Halley, Sheldon Ellis, and Brian Zhang) to help an organization called Unified St. Maarten Connection to gather necessities from all around the Netherlands to ship to St. Maarten. We will be collecting goods every day this week until Friday September 15th, 2017. If you are unable to bring your donations, we will also be providing a service to pick up the donations from your house. Just pass by at our table close to the entrance before you enter the atrium. You can’t miss us! Show your support!
Here is a list of the necessities we are hoping to collect to help our island:
Make Sint Maarten Great Again I just would like to say that I am a proud St. Maartener. I have seen so much progress already, everyone is putting in so much effort to rebuild St. Maarten and I couldn’t be prouder. I love my island and my island people. We are warriors and we will fight through every obstacle life throws at us.