Student from devastated Saint Martin: ‘We will rebuild and come out stronger’

Student from devastated Saint Martin: ‘We will rebuild and come out stronger’

The most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean has left the island of Saint Martin devastated. Tilburg University student Faricka Merrick (19) tells of the storm that hit her home country. “Buildings are completely destroyed, roofs were ripped from homes, and communication is limited.”

Faricka was in Tilburg when hurricane Irma blasted through the Carribean. “I stayed in constant communication with my family and friends before the storm hit”, she says. “I was able to get a hold of my mom during the passing of the eye of the hurricane.”

The storm quickly brought down power and phone lines, cutting off communications and making it difficult for Faricka to get in contact with her loved-ones back home. “I got word of the damage through social media and fellow Sint Maarteners. I’m also super thankful to those who posted live streams on Facebook, which allowed me to see the damage and understand the situation.”

Basic necessities

Eventually, Faricka was able to speak to her sister and her mother, who told her that they were unharmed. “Luckily, my family and friends back in Sint Maarten are all well, and their houses are still intact.”

The island of Saint Martin is among the worst hit by the catastrophic hurricane. “At this point, I’m not able to get in touch with my loved-ones. That’s okay, because I know they’re trying to save battery as much as they can. There’s no electricity and the cellular connection is weak or non-existent”, Faricka says. “From the live streams, I’ve seen that there is a shortage of basic necessities. We need water, food, clothing and medicine. Not only for the Dutch side of the island, but also for the French side, which suffered massive losses.”


At least nine people have been reported dead and many more are injured. According to a local official, the French part of the half-Dutch, half-French island was ‘95% destroyed’. The island’s airport is badly damaged, making the delivery of help and supplies difficult. But despite the enormous devastation, Faricka remains positive. “We are an optimistic people. No matter the state that we are presently in, we will rebuild and come out stronger as a country. I have no doubt about that.”

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