Thursday 23 November, 2017

Barbadian family fighting to get out of St Maarten

The Haynes family in St Maarten before Irma struck.

The Haynes family in St Maarten before Irma struck.

A family holiday has turned into a traumatic ordeal for one Barbadian family stranded in St Maarten, following the passage of the devastating Hurricane Irma.

Nico and Naomi Haynes and their two children were staying at the Simpson Bay Resort and Marina when Hurricane Irma struck on Wednesday causing widespread damage to the Dutch territory, including its world-famous airport.

Friends have reached out to the media on their behalf to highlight their plight after Naomi was able to get messages out to them on Saturday, saying, "Please guys, can you bring as much media attention to this situation here."

The runway at Sint Maarten’s destroyed Princess Juliana International Airport has been cleared to allow for planes to land, but according to Haynes, only Americans are being evacuated.

She said there appears to be no evacuation plan for non-Americans and they have been receiving no information.

Naomi told her friends, “We went to the airport but they’re only taking Americans. Island running out of water and food, gangs are looting everything…The Dutch government is in charge of the airport. We have no land line or cell communication except WiFi.”

In her last communication, Haynes said they hoped to be on a flight out at 5 a.m. on Sunday, but there has been no confirmation yet that this has happened.

Haynes, who is a British citizen, said they had contacted the UK consulate there but also made an appeal to the British consulate in Barbados to assist.

“We just want to be anywhere but this island,” she told friends.

At least eight people were killed and 23 injured during the passage of Hurricane Irma after the storm’s eye passed directly over Sint Maarten.

On Friday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Hurricane Irma left "widespread destruction of infrastructure, houses and businesses. There's no power, no gas, no running water. Houses are underwater, cars float through the streets. Residents are in the dark, in ruined houses and are locked out of the outside world".

There have also been reports of widespread looting.

"We do everything in our power to help people there. We are working closely with France and other partners in the region. And of course we also take care of the Dutch who are in the affected region," Rutte added.