On September 6th, 2017, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history hit the north Caribbean devastating everything within it’s wake. Hurricane Irma damaged over 90% of the buildingsand homes on St Maarten and her surrounding islands, leaving many homeless and unemployed.
K1 Britannia Foundation, who is a sister charity to K1 Britannia Trust (UK), and K1 Britannia America Foundation, have been operating in St Maarten since 2014. We have focused extensively on a variety of maritime and other charitable projects, with a major focus on the social issues faced by troubled youth on the island and the surrounding areas, as well as volunteer initiatives.
A few hours after the hurricane passed over the island, K1 volunteers were some of the first to jump into action, putting in 12-14 hours a day clearing rubble, debris, assessing the livability of shelters, comforting those they met along the way, and distributing donated food and water from select business individuals who pulled together to give what they had left. Through this, we were able to keep the vulnerable homes and shelters, from the hospital, prison, foster care homes, mental health institutions and more, supplied with the basics that they needed.
Apart from taking on the responsibility of keeping 700 individuals housed in the vulnerable institutions (inclusive of 90 foster children placed in individual homes) supplied with regular food and water, K1 Britannia Foundation was requested to be responsible for the government food and water mass distributions of aid being delivered to the port. Together with the Dutch Marines, we were able to distribute food and water at the selected mass distribution points, covering more than a 1000 people every day – most of whom had no access to food or water for days.
With Hurricane Jose having safely passed the island and Hurricane Maria hot on her heels, the government asked us to manage 4 of the 8 emergency shelters set up for individuals who did not have asafe place to weather the storm. Our volunteers were able to rescue individuals from damaged buildings and homes and bring them into a safe place with food and water for the duration of the Hurricane.
Now that the dust is settling, St Maarten is doing her best to regain a sense of normality. There is a long road ahead to recovery, but one that is not impossible if we can all pull together to repair what has been broken. Our K1 volunteers are still active daily helping to rebuild the communities around the island and keep the vulnerable institutions fed. In collaboration with Rapid Response Team Foundation in Switzerland, we are transitioning from emergency care to long-term solutions in order to stabilize and rebuild. We have a vision to help the island and work together with the local marine industry to get St Maarten back on it’s feet and bring back tourism to the island.
K1 Britannia Foundation appeals to the greater yachting community to join with us in helping St Maarten get back on it’s feet. Our appeal is two-fold:
1. St Maarten needs the yachts to come back for this season. The Marine Industry plays a huge role in the infrastructure and success of the economy, Mrs. Valeska Luckert (Owner and Director of Palapa Marina St Maarten, and Secretary of the Marine Trades Association St Maarten) said: “The yachting industry has endured a lot of damage during Hurricane Irma and are doing their best to get themselves up and running for this upcoming season. Already materials are being flown in, in order to get the docks back up and running and ready to receive yachts. The marinas are working together to repair the docks and clear all debris that may be underwater for clear passage. Various marinas have already announced that they would be open and functional from the 1st of November, 2017. The agents and a lot of the service sections of the yachting industry are prepping and gearing up and want to remain on the island to be open for this season… Places like FKG, Budget Marine, Island Water World, among others, are already operational. The Marine Trades associations members are working hard to clean and rebuild as quickly as possible to be up and running for this upcoming yachting season. The island will not be back in full service as that will take some time. But we are confident that we will soon have a even stronger St Maarten. St Barths also announced that they will be open for this season so we are hoping that the yachting industry who has always given their support to us, would continue to do so by visiting our lovely island during this difficult period of recovery. We need the boats to return in order for us to recover.”
2. We need your support in terms of finance and aid to help us during the recovery process. The yachting industry has enjoyed and benefitted from St Maarten for so many years, and now is when we need your support and care to help us bounce back. We desperately need your help! For donations and to see more of what we are doing and how you can be involved, please visit our website:
For more information contact Priya Thirumur: firstname.lastname@example.org