photo: Hazel Durand

THE BOTTOM – Following the hurricane Saba’s local government has been meeting with stakeholders to discuss a joint strategy in the aftermath of hurricane Irma. On Monday the Island Government met with grocery stores, restaurants, bars, hotels and hardware stores. As St. Maarten is Saba’s main route for the import of goods, the Island Government is assisting in establishing possible new routes.

While the king praised Saba for it’s hurricane pre-planning and clean up, the critique on how St. Maarten handled it is growing. Also Saban Vanessa, who was on St. Maarten during hurricane Irma, is not happy about how the government handled it. “I’ve never been in a situation like that in my life. That you have to start to think about how you are going to eat and drink and extra pressure of security, because people trying to steal your car and such. I was not satisfied with the response of the government of St. Maarten. Where was the emergency planning?”

Saban Vanessa talks about her experience on St. Maarten during and after hurricane Irma

So far Saba has received drinking water from the Dutch Kingdom Marines and neighboring island St. Kitts. Medical supplies have been flown in and a Emergency Air Bridge has been established between Saba, St.Eustatius and Bonaire. Patients from Saba will be brought to St.Eustatius via helicopter and will be taken to Bonaire with an Air Ambulance.

Island Doctor Dr. Koot noted that this route has so far been successful and tested last Sunday when a patient was smoothly transferred to Bonaire. “St. Maarten’s hospital is not operational as yet and we rely on them, so we focus on Bonaire,” he told the King during his visit on Tuesday.

Humanitarian effort
Upon learning of the state of emergency in St. Maarten, right away the local fishermen and dive shops offered to go over with their boats and pickup Sabans living in St. Maarten who preferred to come home. The Island Government facilitated this effort.

King Willem-Alexander at Saba. Photo: Hazel Durand

Several families have decided to bring their young children over to Saba to continue with school as St. Maarten recovers. An emotional young mother described her ordeal to the King on Tuesday, expressing the relief in having these boats rescue them. “They sent boats and we came home,” she said tearfully.