“St Maarten will rise better than before…” – PM William Marlin
DPI, GUYANA, Friday, October 13, 2017
St Maarten is said to be the world’s smallest inhabited island divided between two nations; French Republic: Saint Martin and Kingdom of Netherlands: Sint Maarten. It was completely wrecked on September 6, by the fierce Hurricane Irma.
Residents have been working assiduously, with international aid, to rebuild the nation over the past month. In an exclusive interview with the island’s (Kingdom of Netherlands) Prime Minister William Marlin explained that the journey has been lengthy but “St Maarten, with very short time, will rise to the levels we were before and become even better.”
According to Prime Minister Marlin, 95% of the buildings, businesses; and lives have been severely affected. However, many schools and businesses opened last week and the process to rebuild the country has begun. The Princess Juliana International Airport, which has not been renovated, was opened to international flights Tuesday, 10 October. The Harbor was opened and will open to cruise ships on November 11, on the national holiday – St Maarten’s Day.
The recovery process has begun, with electricity being restored for the greater part of the island, and water is available throughout the island. “Even though our storage tanks have been compromised and some water you cannot drink from the tap – not that it is not healthy,” Marlin said. He added that residents are advised to boil water before consumption.
The government of St. Maarten has since brought in a reverse osmosis plant that filters water from the city lines and converts it into potable drinking water, hence there is “an ample supply of drinking water,” Marlin stated.
A lot of wreckage can be seen around the city, but workers and residents have been collaborating to move piles of debris in the nights to various dump sites.
“St Maarten is still a number one destination, not just a destination for tourism, it is a great place to live and to work particularly because of the dollar rise economy that we have,” Prime Minister Marlin reiterated, noting that with time and collaboration the island will remain a tourist destination haven.
The government of Guyana and local airlines have been sending relief flights and supplies to the island. Some 24 Guyanese nationals have returned from the hurricane-stricken island. JAGS Aviation Inc. has sent two flights to the island free of cost, while Trans Guyana Airways brought two sets of evacuees.
By: Zanneel Williams