PHILIPSBURG/MARIGOT: St. Maarten/St. Martin started experiencing the effects of Hurricane Irma on September 5, 2017, in the evening hours. Throughout the night most residents experienced tropical storm force winds and rain. In the morning hours of September 6, 2017, the island started experiencing the full force of the hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (297 km/h) or greater. During this time the island lost electricity and communications on both sides of the island.
An assessment of the death toll and damage to the island is underway, early reports indicate that the French side was hit harder than the Dutch side with a death toll of 9 so far. Ninety-five percent of infrastructure has been damaged with many residents losing the roofs and in some cases their entire house. The capitals of both sides of the island, as well as other low lying areas, were totally flooded out. Port of St. Maarten and Princess Juliana International Airport, also suffered severe damage.
Prior to the hurricane both The Netherlands and France dispatched reinforcements to assist throughout the storm and in cleaning up the aftermath. The Netherlands sent the Dutch Marines (Koninklijke Marine) while France sent support law enforcement officers (Gendarmerie). After the passing of Hurricane Irma, both the Netherlands and France dispatched additional reinforcements.
Currently, both sides of the island are still without electricity, phone, and the internet. Many students and residents that were abroad when Hurricane Irma passed are still trying to make contact with their loved ones to find out if they are alive and well. SMN News has also received quite a few emails from the family members of tourists who were on the island trying to get information on their loved ones.
It will be a few days if not weeks before electricity and communication are fully restored. Recovery is made even more difficult with Hurricane Jose currently a category two hurricane which has been forecasted to increase in strength to category three and make landfall on Saturday, September 9, 2017. For updates tune into Laser 101.
UPDATE HURRICANE IRMA
Hurricane Irma has passed the islands of Saba, Saint Eustatius and Sint Maarten with devastating power. Immediately after the passage, Dutch soldiers have performed foot patrols on all three islands and have the maritime NH-90 helicopter from Zr.Ms. Zeeland made a reconnaissance flight to see where the emergency is the highest. The islands of Saba and Saint Eustatius were hit by Irma, but the damage seems to be falling in comparison with Sint Maarten. St. Maarten was hit hard by the hurricane. There is hardly any electricity and running water. The infrastructure on the island is bad: the airport and port are unreachable. These routes are crucial in providing humanitarian relief.
As soon as the lights become on the islands, our navy and engineer geniuses get started to restore the infrastructure and to monitor public order. The navy ships Zr.Ms. Zeeland and Zr.Ms. Pelican is near now and provides support to the operations on land from the sea. They can provide additional people, vehicles, auxiliaries and drinking water.
From Koninklijke Marine Facebook Page
Receive hereby a brief update on the situation of UTS St. Maarten:
We are encountering a major interruption in our services in this territory due to Hurricane Irma which caused huge devastation on the island.
As communicated via different media, UTS St. Maarten got hit hard as our mast at the UTS building came down and is completely destroyed. (picture below) The team on site is working hard on regaining generator power at the UTS office and subsequently will proceed with all the necessary work in order to re-establish all lost connections.
Our calamity team in Curaçao has assessed the situation as far as was possible and is already preparing while on standby to depart to St. Maarten to provide support. As colleague Gregory Colina explained in an interview, we were forced to shut down parts of our systems on the island during the hurricane as a precautionary measure. As soon as these are reconnected, the internet connection will be in great part re-established. Meanwhile, the mobile service will continue to be worked on.
UTS is aware that communication is essential during this disastrous aftermath and will do everything possible to reconnect its clients as soon as possible.
From UTS Facebook Page