[UPDATE: 9/9/2017 2:25pm PT US evacuates 500 Americans trapped on St. Maarten by Hurricane Irma]
[UPDATE: 9/9/2017 12:00pm PT Just received a dire message from our friend, Mitch, who has been stranded on St. Martin with his wife and daughter: "Just connected school management with my [redacted] security guys. Can't get anything done. We now have security issues. French side of island is in civil war with gangs overpowering military and local police. Dutch soldiers at borders but at our gates have been threatened. We have Blackwater type team ready to heli in from Virgin Islands but Dutch and locals won't let them land. Same for charters. We are alone."]
St. Martin was one of the islands hardest hit by Hurricane Irma, and days later 6,000 Americans are still stranded on the French-Dutch island, with no phones, no Internet, or any kind of infrastructure. Cell phone communication is spotty, but some calls and texts manage to get through. Now there are looters and people roaming the streets with guns and machetes, according to my friends who are among the stranded.
Stacy and Mitch, from Los Angeles, left for St. Martin over a week ago to drop their daughter off at American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC). They were staying at a hotel, but it was completely destroyed by Irma, so they are staying at the AUC, which is sheltering 600 people as they wait to be evacuated. The only problem is, no one knows when an evacuation is going to happen.
They were told days ago that they were about to be evacuated by the military. Stacy wrote this on September 7th: "They are having us walk 2 miles to airport. Then waiting, boarding groups when planes arrive. They haven't given us green light yet. Hurricane Jose is an issue possibly. This is horrible. I have nothing left but my electronics And my medication. Our hotel was destroyed and lots of fatalies...Internet is gone. Inconsistent cell signals. I can get texts randomly..."
The planes never arrived.
Then this from Mitch: "Military now not an option. Supposedly charter planes have been contracted thru Dutch government. Now it's about the weather. Jose will hit tonight. Depends on how bad but we are officially in first fly group and might be heading for Chicago tomorrow late afternoon."
The charter planes never arrived.
Now they are back to talking about military planes. I'm assuming Stacy means the US military. They are in a meeting to find out what the latest plan is. She says this morning at 5:30am a plane did come and evacuated a group of women and children, but according to Stacy, it's rumored to be returning.
According to 9News:
The U.S. Consulate General in Curaçao says it believes about 6,000 Americans are stranded on St. Martin after Hurricane Irma leveled the Caribbean island. The consulate is collecting the names and locations of the stranded and says it is working with the U.S. and other governments to try to figure out how to get the Americans off the island either by air or boat. Frantic Americans were calling relatives in the U.S. to try to get them off the island, especially because Hurricane Jose threatened a second blow to the tourist Mecca.
Food and clean water are scarce for everyone on the island. Medicine is running out. Let's hope St. Martin can immediately get the supplies and help that they need.