King says St. Maarten looks ‘ready for business again’

PHILIPSBURG  - Almost three months after monster Hurricane Irma pummelled St. Maarten, King Willem-Alexander says the country looks “ready for business again.”

 
“All the different people who day in day out give their utmost to bring St. Maarten back and make the island ready to receive tourists again and I really, really hope and pray it will happen very soon because St. Maarten deserves it, the people of St. Maarten deserve it,” the King said. “And I was very impressed to see that resilience yet again.”
 
He followed up with the caveat that there is still much work to be done to bring the vibrancy back.
 
“Obviously if you look carefully you still see there is a lot of destruction that has to be repaired, but the people are resilient. The people believe in the future,” he told the press at the end of a one-day morale-boosting trip here Saturday along with Queen Máxima. “They have done everything to come over this terrible disaster of Irma and I was very impressed to see that resilience yet again.”
 
The royal couple said it was “special to meet people” from the Red Cross, White and Yellow Cross, and those who are caring for people without housing.
 
“I also take back home the gratefulness of the St. Maarten people for what the Dutch military has done – the Marines, the Marechaussee, the engineers – who have been doing all this work to try and fix houses and clean debris from people. ... They went the extra mile and that is also important to see and hear that from the people,” the king said.
 
He visited the country five days after Irma struck on September 6 causing damage to some 90 per cent of buildings from blown out windows to total demolition of homes. The worst hurricane in history also ripped up some 80 per cent of the hotel properties, the femoral artery of the tourism-driven country.
 
“It is amazing to see what has been done. How the debris has been cleared,” the King said comparing his September solo visit with Saturday’s. “I am still shocked when I see the island. When I saw it in September I told my wife and family when I got back, I never ever experienced something like it.”
 
The Daily Herald

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