We’ve seen help coming from all corners on the French side of the island. Firefighters from Marseille, Guadeloupe and Guyana, members of the French foreign Legion from Russia - an unprecedented outpouring of assistance. The same on the Dutch side where help came from Aruba and Curaçao, from Nijmegen and Friesland, and of course from many other places too.
We’ve never seen so many damaged cars and shattered windshields in our life. And of course, we heard the stories about senseless looting - who needs a flatscreen TV when there is no electricity? - but we also heard Glen Carty and his daughter Jennifer sing five times in a row Happy Birthday on Laser 101 for callers who said in was their birthday.
Amidst all the misery that has befallen us we encountered many people who were ready to help - literally with anything. We have taken tourists to the airport, given rides to people who had no transportation, as we’re sure many others have done as well.
This is not the time to take credit for anything. You just do what you have to do, you help where help is needed and you share whatever it is you have. The spirit of togetherness is what has touched us deeply, though it is easy to forget these things when reports about looting come over the airwaves.
When you are used to open a tap to get water for cooking or for your shower, it is rather humiliating to have to go somewhere with a bunch of plastic bottles to get your 30 to 40 liters of water every morning. But at the end of the day, you are happy to be alive and all these discomforts become relatively irrelevant. If you want to survive, you will just have to bite the bullet.
Take action and support each other. The mess we are in right now is bad, but it won’t last forever. This is a good time to ask yourself the following question: do I want to go down in history as someone who went out stealing after Hurricane Irma, or as someone who helped the community?
The ambition to rebuild Sint Maarten as fast as possible is understandable. Everybody wants to go back to business as usual, the economy needs to get going and people need jobs and an income.
But fast is not always good and even though we are not into advice, we’d like to note that it is better to think first and act later.
The destruction Hurricane Irma has inflicted on our island ought to serve as a lesson. The devastating storm has relentlessly exposed our weak points – in construction in particular.
Rebuilding cannot be more of the same. If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.
So it is time to look at construction methods that withstood the wrath of Irma and apply them to the rebuilding process.
Maybe all this will take some more time; it will certainly cost more money, but these considerations should not stand in the way of building a better and even more beautiful Sint Maarten.
Bovenstaande hoofdredactionele commentaren verscheen afgelopen dagen in de Sint Maartense krant Today voorafgegaan door de volgende introductie: ,,Good news! Our managing editor, Hilbert Haar, is back online and is writing again. As he lives on the French side of Saint Martin and his mobility is limited, partly due to the curfew in effect on both the French and Dutch sides, his reporting will have a slightly French tint in his articles. Nonetheless, we are happy have him back.”