St. Maarten/St. Martin Post Hurricane Irma

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A rebuilt restaurant on Orient Beach 

Mike and I are in St. Maarten/St. Martin this week, one year after Hurricane Irma devastated the island. We were here when Hurricane Irma came through and wanted to come back and see the island while it is recovering. I also wanted to finish the last section of the book on the hurricane experience and lessons learned and seeing the island at this stage is a part of that.

September 5, 2017, was the night we will always remember. We went to bed early, knowing that Irma would greet us before morning. The “we” included our local friends who moved in with us to brave the storm. Our friends, Ron and his wife, Muskaan, and their two sons, eleven-year-old Sameer and seventeen-month-old Veer, and Mike and I huddled together in our bathroom while Irma passed over.

Thankfully, once Irma was gone we were all fine although much of the island wasn’t. Once the storm was over, we spent the next few days trying to stay safe while evacuation plans were underway to get the tourists off of the island as soon as possible. Mike and I were fortunate. We were evacuated by Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas four days after the hurricane. Ron and his family left our unit when we did and moved in with local friends for a few days since their home was uninhabitable.

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Precious Veer a year older and sweeter!

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Harry and Ron of Joe’s Jewelry in St. Maarten, still # 1 on Trip Advisor!

September 5, 2018, Ron and his family had Mike and me over for dinner, and we went down memory lane about our shared experience. Mike and I learned that Ron and his family were also evacuated from the island by Royal Caribbean a few days after we were. They were taken to Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria was due to land the next day! Through ingenuity and hard work, Ron was able to get his family on a flight to New York, just missing Maria. From there they went home to India until things improved in St. Maarten. Ron returned to St. Maarten in November and his family in December.

And what about the island? How is it doing?

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Just one of the many beautiful sunsets

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People watching planes come and go at Maho Beach

The beaches are as beautiful as ever. The people are as friendly as they always were. There are plenty of restaurants that are open, although some are still in the rebuilding stage. Some areas of the island are in good shape; others are not. There are many signs of Irma’s wrath all around. There has been some rebuilding, and more in process. There is more needed. Common themes we heard was that there are not enough workers and not enough money for all that needs to be done.

But the locals are not complaining. They are grateful that the tourists are returning. The cruise ships are much of the livelihood, and they started coming back to the island in December. People are spending money, and that is what is needed. The economy of the island depends on tourism, and there are healthy signs that tourism is starting to rebound.

While Hurricane Irma did major damage to the island, it did not destroy it. This special island and its people are rising again.    

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About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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6 Responses to St. Maarten/St. Martin Post Hurricane Irma

  1. Chatham Kildosher says:

    Hooray for St. Maarten’s recovery!! It is a little piece of home for us!

  2. Patti Fralix says:

    Thank you, sweet Chatham.

  3. lulu says:

    Seeing the island’s recovery had to be reassuring and indicative of human capacity.

  4. Sweet friend, tears are falling as I read your post. I will never forget how worried we were for you and Mike. Having visited with you twice on the island, and seeing the determination and resilience of the people living there is heartwarming. I am so glad you returned. Blessings on the wonderful residents as they continue to rebuild!

  5. Patti Fralix says:

    Thank you so much, dear Pam. I am so glad that we were here for this anniversary. It allows me to put the put the fear and other negative emotions about Irma to rest, and focus on the growth and rebuilding of this special place and these resilient people.

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