Dutch and French Caribbean struggle with harsh conditions

Reuters/Christophe Ena/Pool France's President Emmanuel Macron comforts residents during his visit to St Martin yesterday.

In the chaotic days after Hurricane Irma smashed St. Martin, the storm also exposed simmering racial tensions on the island's French territory, with some black and mixed-race residents complaining that white tourists were given priority during the evacuation.

Macron arrived in the French territory yesterday morning and immediately hit the ground to get a first-hand look at the impact of Irma's wrath, against the backdrop of complaints that France had deserted its own. "The presidential Airbus will bring equipment and basic necessities", Collomb wrote in his official Twitter blog.

After spending hours meeting with residents of the French side of the shared French-Dutch island of St. Martin on Tuesday, Macron promised to compensate those who have lost homes and livelihoods and to rebuild the island as a "model" of sustainability and durability with a more diversified economy.

Eleven people were killed in St Martin during the passage of the Category 5 hurricane and thousands have been displaced, as Irma demolished homes, buildings, and infrastructure.


On the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Stacey Alvarado described those left behind in the storm as "roaming like zombies". "The geography of the homes was not adapted to the risks".

Evacuees arriving in the United States from St. Martin spoke of their horror as the hurricane passed overhead and the hard cleanup that has followed.

Recovery efforts are underway in Cuba a day after Hurricane Irma smashed into the country's north en route towards the Florida Keys. Those who remained were prepared, though they knew this was a storm like few had ever experienced, they told CNN.

The chairmen of the all-party Foreign Affairs and Development Select Committees, Tom Tugendhat and Stephen Twigg, supported Hodge's comments said that experts and many in the area had been critical of the overall level of relief.

A string of small Caribbean islands was left reeling by Irma. Some jeered him in anticipation of aid supplies or hoping to catch flights for France to escape the devastation across the island.


The UK has had a naval vessel, Mounts Bay, preloaded with disaster relief supplies in the Caribbean since July, and within a couple of days had restored electricity at Anguilla's hospital and cleared the airport runway before repositioning to the British Virgin Islands. 80% of buildings are thought to be damaged. The Dutch prime minister says four people were killed on the Dutch side of the island.

The US and British Virgin Islands were also pummeled by Irma.

During a series of focus groups held earlier this year at a conference reflecting on the future of Britain's Overseas Territories at the National Maritime Museum, young citizens of the Caribbean overseas territories spoke of their frustration that their relationships with Europe (and their European neighbours in the eastern Caribbean) would be affected by a vote they were not allowed to participate in.

Widespread flooding swept across the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The French West Indies, for example, has a population approaching 850,000 people spread over seven islands (the largest being Guadeloupe) in relatively close proximity in the Antilles archipelago.



Popular

CONNECT