Hurricane Irma struck Sint Maarten in early September 2017. Six months later both the Dutch and French sides are struggling to recover. 80% of the hotel rooms are unusable. The airport’s new 100 million Euro terminal sustained 76 million Euros worth of damage. They are meeting incoming flights in a big tent and it’ll take 2 years to rebuild. Things were even worse over on the French side. Since we had been here before we didn’t want to take a tour to Marigot. No point in feeling bad about the destruction of such a lovely spot.
Cruise ships are an important part of Sint Maarten’s economy. Sometimes they had 6-7 of them in Philipsburg at a time – at least they did before Irma dropped in. Today we had 2 – Freedom of the Seas and Eclipse. Carnival was supposed to come as well but they canceled their port call.
We took the water taxi over to Philipsburg. We didn’t go there the last time but Sarah and Dave remembered it as a pleasant, bustling town in 2011.
The place was a ghost town. Stores were shuttered or in the process of closing. Those that were open had someone outside almost begging you to come in.
It was like taking pictures of a car wreck – rather insensitive and I tried to be discreet.
The beach looked OK but the surrounding hills – which looked so lush and green before – were pretty ugly now.
Folks were doing the best they can. But it wasn’t easy.
We did some serious souvenir shopping in Sint Maarten and I hope our meager efforts helped out the community. They really need a lot of help. The Netherlands wanted to provide aid but at first, the local government refused – some jurisdictional dispute I guess. Things are supposed to get better with a new island government, according to the locals.
A big private yacht was moored in the harbor. I hope that helps out the economy some.
As we headed back to the ship I couldn’t help but think I’d like to come back to Sint Maarten in a few years time. They need the tourism and with any luck, they can rebuild and avoid more visits from Irma and her contemporaries.