One year after Hurricane Irma: Third of money raised for Sint Maarten spent

Sint Maarten during Hurricane Irma, 6 Sept 2017
Sint Maarten during Hurricane Irma, 6 Sept 2017. Photo: @C_ZMCARIB / Twitter

Exactly a year ago today Sint Maarten was hit by . About a third of the 20 million euros the Dutch raised for aid to the island last year, has since been spent. The money was mainly used to provide basic necessities - food, water and shelter, RTL Nieuws reports.

Hurricane Irma caused massive destruction on Sint Maarten, a Caribbean island that forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. One person died on the Dutch side of the island, and around 90 percent of buildings were damaged.

In the first months after the disaster, the Red Cross mainly distributed goods to the island's tens of thousands of residents. Over 116 thousand liters of water, almost 12 thousand tarps and over 8 thousand food parcels were handed out. Vulnerable families, like sick and elderly people without a job, received almost 17 thousand food stamps, with which they could by food in the island's supermarkets. During the past school year, the pupils of 18 primary schools and 5 secondary schools received breakfast and a warm lunch every day.

The remaining money raised in the Netherlands during the action day, over 12 million euros, will be spent on repairing homes on the island and making them hurricane-resistant. The Red Cross is also giving courses to residents on how they can best repair their homes, as well as coupons with which they can obtain the necessary building materials. 

Immediately after the hurricane hit, the Netherlands gave 7 million euros for emergency relief on the island. This money was used, among other things, to clear debris and make the island's water and electricity facilities hurricane-resistant.

In total the Dutch government made 550 million euros available to Sint Maarten for the reconstruction of the Dutch part of the island. As the amount is too large to be released all at once, it will be transferred to the island in parts in the coming years. The World Bank is in charge of this.

In April the first 112 million euros of emergency aid was released. The money was used for recovery work, to support emergency services on the island and for a special training program aimed at getting tourism to the island up and running again.  Tourism is an important source of income for the island. The rest of the money was paid per project, for example for the repair of the airport.

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