Post Irma damage first hand account.

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#1
Belgium, Europe
1,445 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
As I have just returned from Operating a Post-Irma relief flight to the Caribbean, I can give a quick update on what I saw and heard regarding the damages on St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, Martinique .

We were not able to land on St Maarten due to the airport still unable to accept an aircraft of our size ( B747).

We landed in Guadeloupe instead.
On Guadeloupe, damages are mostly cosmetic, with broken roadsigns, fallen trees, glass damage and some erosion of the beaches. Nobody was severly injured .
Electricity was still out in some parts of the island.

Martinique did not receive extensive damages.

That leaves us with St. Maarten/ St. Martin.
As you no doubt have read and seen in the Media, Irma did not spare this beautiful Island and its people.
Over 60% of houses are considered unsuitable for habitation, nearly ALL houses received damage.
The Airport has no more Navigation aids working, has receivedmextensive damage to the terminal and Apron and has damages on the taxiways and runways. Security fencing is largely gone.

For us, cruisers an important thing: it seems that the Port has also received extensive damage, the shopping area has been decimated, and parts of the pier have collapsed. The container area is even worse off. There are debris, so far uncharted in the approach into Philipsburg, blocking access by larger vessels.

Let us hope that Maria will not strike another blow to our beloved islands,

Greetz,

Despegue.

Captain B747-400/-8

Ps. I am unable to post pictures as this was not a civilian organized flight, I hope that you understand.
#2
Beautiful British Columbia, Canada
2,308 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
Thank you so much for the report. Hoping as well that there are no more blows to the islands.


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#3
New Jersey
9,028 Posts
Joined May 2007
Thank you for the information, and thank you for being part of the relief effort.

I saw an aerial shot of the commercial (non cruise) port area on St Maarten, and there were containers strewn around in messy heaps instead of being in neat stacks. I wonder how many ended up in the water, as the piles were close to the edge of the dock.

For those who think they can bear to look, there are links to before/after photos of Caribbean damage posted on the Caribbean ports of call boards.
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Kathy
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#5
Encinitas, California
2,918 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
So appreciate what you are doing and most of all I hope this beautiful island 🌴 comes back as vibrant as ever. So sad what has happened and I hope and pray for a recovery.
Denise
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Deeniencinitas
#6
108,046 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Thank you for the report about St Maarten.


I am praying for everyone in the path of Hurricane Maria.


All these people have suffered so many loses and certainly don't need any more tragedies.
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#7
Hamilton, Ontario
1,957 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Thank you for reporting your findings and for your humanitarian efforts. Those poor islands need lots of help and support.
From the sounds of it, they are going to take years to recover. And it's sad that if the tourists can't go there, to resorts or on cruises, they are not there spending money. And money is what those islands need to rebuild.
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#8
82,769 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Originally posted by Despegue
As I have just returned from Operating a Post-Irma relief flight to the Caribbean, I can give a quick update on what I saw and heard regarding the damages on St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, Martinique .

We were not able to land on St Maarten due to the airport still unable to accept an aircraft of our size ( B747).

We landed in Guadeloupe instead.
On Guadeloupe, damages are mostly cosmetic, with broken roadsigns, fallen trees, glass damage and some erosion of the beaches. Nobody was severly injured .
Electricity was still out in some parts of the island.

Martinique did not receive extensive damages.

That leaves us with St. Maarten/ St. Martin.
As you no doubt have read and seen in the Media, Irma did not spare this beautiful Island and its people.
Over 60% of houses are considered unsuitable for habitation, nearly ALL houses received damage.
The Airport has no more Navigation aids working, has receivedmextensive damage to the terminal and Apron and has damages on the taxiways and runways. Security fencing is largely gone.

For us, cruisers an important thing: it seems that the Port has also received extensive damage, the shopping area has been decimated, and parts of the pier have collapsed. The container area is even worse off. There are debris, so far uncharted in the approach into Philipsburg, blocking access by larger vessels.

Let us hope that Maria will not strike another blow to our beloved islands,

Greetz,

Despegue.

Captain B747-400/-8

Ps. I am unable to post pictures as this was not a civilian organized flight, I hope that you understand.


Despegue, While it is awful to read the realities of what these people have to ccope with and restore. SO much they will have to reapir an d rewbuild before tthey can brring tourism bck c. How sad. THANK you for giving us first hands informatrion. Nothing like eye witness reports. To think you had to dvviate away from their airport in order to safely land. We are grareful youarre safely back home before this nextt Huricane arrives on the scene. It really hits home to learn the condition of that huge dock. I rcdall when we had to tender in St. Marten, before they built the big dock for the cruise shi[ps. Many of us maynot live long enough to again sail to S. Maarten and have the ship dock. We used to ride an island tender to the middle of downtown. It was okay but i LIKED THAT LONG DOCK MUCH BETTER. I liked the walk into town...... I liked the hhotel casino on tthe corner.. We ducked in there a few time s to escape tropical downpour. and those slot machines were kind to us during our wait for the rain to pass.

So very sorry for the locals and alll they are suffering.,

Thank you bushels for this so inforrmative post..

And, tthank you for the relief aid you apparently deliverred to the islands. They need all the help they can get. You know what good work that was to do forPeople in true need through no fault of their own.
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#9
America's Hometown
16,949 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Despegue...thank you so much for your first hand account and for being a Good Samaritan with relief efforts. It is truly appreciated. We donate but our efforts pale in comparison. My ❤️ goes out to the people of the Caribbean.


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Sheila
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#10
1,753 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Thank you for the report. We always enjoyed St. Maarten and the people there. I hope they can rebuild this beautiful island soon. Praying for them this hurricane season.
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#11
Victoria Harbour, ON
2,656 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Thanks for your report. Watching the news it looks pretty bad. I'm sure it will be a long time for things to get back to normal, they sure don't need another hit.
Allan
#12
82,769 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
I just saw a weather update for the Caribbean and it looks like Viirgin Islands and Guadaloupe are a ggravge of Hurricane Maria. It is imposible to imgine th fea of thos on the islands. Mosgtg don'gt have homes to sgya in an ride it out, where can they be sheltered.? :icgure the st. Tthjpm,as w saw once after a hurrican, with blue tarps on so manny roofs, i cannot imaibner what they are sufferingg now.......... as bad as it gets. I tgried to phonre two diferene telephone nnumbers of friendss in St. Thomas an could not connec.t I have no way to learn if they are safre, where they are.........
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#14
Brasschaat, Belgium
85 Posts
Joined Jun 2015
Hello Despegue,

will you sail on HAL Koningsdam departing October 18th as well?

Kind regards,

Kristof
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#16
Brasschaat, Belgium
85 Posts
Joined Jun 2015
Originally posted by Despegue
Hallo Kristof,

Ja, inderdaad 😀🇧🇪

Dan zijn we niet de enige Belgen aan boord Varen jullie 11 of 21 nachten mee?

Captain 744/748 bij Cargolux toevallig?
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#17
Florida
20,361 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Thank you for sharing.
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