"Destruction and upheaval everywhere" on Sint Maarten: Dutch King

Sint Maarten after Hurricane Irma, 7 Sept 2017
Sint Maarten after Hurricane Irma, 7 Sept 2017Photo: @kon_marine / Twitter

Dutch King Willem-Alexander is overwhelmed by the devastation Hurricane Irma left on Sint Maarten, one of the Caribbean islands that form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. "I've never seen anything like this, everywhere you look you see destruction and upheaval", the King said from the island on Tuesday, NU.nl reports.

King Willem-Alexander and Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations arrived on Sint Maarten on Monday. They traveled around the island to see the damage with their own eyes. Later on Tuesday they'll travel to Sint Eustatius and Saba, which also sustained damage during Hurricane Irma.

"I've never seen anything like this before. I have seen a lot of natural violence and war violence. At the same time, you also see people shoulder to shoulder, rebuilding the island. But where to do you start at a moment like this? It was very useful to see for myself what the storm did", the Dutch King said, according to the newspaper.

Willem-Alexander also gave a radio interview from the island. "When I saw the first footage of Irma, the images were too much to take in. Sint Maarten is always iin my heart. I am convinced that Sint Maarten can get through this. We can't perform miracles. In good and bad times, we as Netherlands stand ready for Sint Maarten."

Of the three Dutch islands affected by Hurricane Irma, Sint Maarten sustained most of the damage. About 70 percent of the homes on the island were seriously damaged or collapsed, according to NU.nl. The water- and power supply also sustained damage and communication with the island is still difficult. 

Dutch military ships and aircraft deliver food, water and other necessities to Sint Maarten on a daily basis. The Red Cross opened Giro 5125 to raise funds for emergency relief for the affected islands. The people of the Netherlands already donated over 1.5 million euros to the victims of the devastating hurricane. On Friday the red cross and Dutch broadcasters are holding a national fund raising action for Hurricane Irma victims. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations sent teams of experts to Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius to assess the damages on the three islands and map exactly what is necessary for long-term reconstruction. Once these assessments are in, the government will draw up a reconstruction plan.