The impact of the ferocious winds of Irma followed by the rain of Maria is unparalleled. Our critical infrastructure has been hard hit. As a people, individually and collectively, we are faced with a major challenge going forward. As we take up this challenge we must stay focus and united in the task at hand. From the events of the last two weeks it is clear that we have no control over the passing of hurricanes, but by being smart we can control how we respond and mitigate the effects. Let us therefore learn from our experiences and continue to build and improve on the progress we have made. Progress:
1. in maintaining operations of our hospital;
2. in restoring and maintaining public order;
3. in bringing emergency relief to districts;
4. in the partial restoration of water supply;
5. in the gradual restoration of electricity supply;
6. in the gradual restoration of voice and data communication;
7. in the opening up of some food outlets; and
8. in the opening of a number of banks.
At the same time we must acknowledge that there is still much to be done. In that regard, it is our obligation, government and everyone who can contribute, to continue to do everything necessary to reach those in need of help who have not yet been reached. However, while we still have a long way to go, we owe a debt of gratefulness to many persons. Persons who, having suffered damage to their property themselves, continue to come out under difficult circumstances to make progress possible. Persons ,such as, the members of the disaster management team and their support staff, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, technicians and business-owners and their employees. In particular, I wish to convey a word of thanks on behalf of the people of Sint Maarten to our Kingdom partners, The Netherlands, Aruba and Curacao, who through the deployment of military officers and police officers have made invaluable contributions. To all who contributed and continue to do so I say thank you for your service to the people of Sint Maarten.
Going forward we will need everyone to join in to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure one day at a time. Today, tomorrow and each day thereafter we must, and I am convinced that we will, continue to take steps to complete the cleanup, reopen our schools, restart commercial airport operations, commence harbor operations, arrange for emergency homes, rebuild our homes, reconstruct our hotels and restaurants and ultimately secure the recovery of our economy.
As we face this challenge we can do so with the knowledge and resolve that we have been down difficult paths before and we overcame. I therefore believe that we will rebound stronger together again. This through concerted national action in collaboration with Kingdom and international partners. And for that I am, as always, counting on my trust in the boundless strength and resilience of We the People of Sint Maarten”. I therefor trust that we will move to encourage, build, support and lift each other up and thus our country with the help of God.
Thank you, God bless you and may God bless Sint Maarten and protect its coast.