DRIVING AROUND THE ISLAND POST HURRICANE: DEVASTATION!
So, a little history...
We were cruising with our cruise friend, Kia, who actually lived in St Maarten for about 7 years but had moved back to the US. She had told me if I was ever to cruise to St Maarten again and she was there on land vacation, she would show us the sites.
I am taking her up on this offer! Kia had originally said since she goes to St Maarten every year for a land vacation she wasn't getting off the ship at all, but ask me what my plans were. I had originally planned to just to to Simpson Bay to hang out on the beach around the Karakter Beach Bar, but then I remembered her "offer"...go me!
We decided to rent a car and she would drive us around to see all over St Maarten. It sounded like a plan and I started researching the various places in the area to rent a car.
So off we went to explore the island. If you remember correctly, Kia had just informed me that her dad does all the driving in St Maarten and she was going to "attempt" to remember how to get us places. LOL
So after that wonderful reassurance that we knew where we were going and what we were doing...off we went.
On Septmeber 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma struck the island of St Maarten. It was reported that it was a Category 5 hurricane. A Cateogry 5 hurricane is classified as such when the winds consists of at least 156 mph. It was reported the winds reached 185 mph. It was one of the strongest reported Atlantic hurricanes to ever hit (with first place being in 1980 from hurricane Allen with winds of 190 mph). Everyone remembers the devastation that hurricane Katrina caused when it hit NOLA...well Katrina was 175 mph winds. Maybe that puts it into perspective.
So we are now talking 7 months later. Although I watched and looked at a lot of pictures of the aftermath and the rebuilding and clean up had started, there is still so much damage to the island it's unbelievable.
I am going to "attempt" to show you the path we took during our day. I may be wrong on a few things (since I really don't know my way around), but I'm going off the pictures that I have and guessing where we were at any given point. (I'm pulling up Google Earth now for a little consulting with where we are)
We headed toward Philipsburg to start our day, continuing around the Great Salt Pond area on the main road (Walter Nisbeth Rd). You could immediately see damage.
We came across the Air Lekkerbek Bar & Restaurant, which was an airplane that was converted into a restaurant.
It started as a Japanese-made, 45-seat puddlejumper of an airliner for WinAir. But the NAMC YS-11-111 was stripped down at the nearby airport and toted across the bay to its present resting place. Now it’s Air Lekkerbek, a bar and restaurant on the Dutch side of the island of St. Maarten (Saint-Martin on the French side), with additional flag-festooned seating on the outside, because 45 seats just aren’t enough. The jet might be missing part of its tail, but guess what? That’s just a good space to fit another Heineken sign.
Outside the entrance steps, you’re greeted by a very Dutch-looking wooden sign of a bartender serving Heineken. It’s surprisingly airy inside the jet, with white paint, stained wood chairs, and a colorful pattern across the overhead baggage area keeping things light. Thinking about food to accompany your glass of Heineken? Air Lekkerbek offers grilled meat of all kinds, seafood, poultry and lunch platters and sandwiches.
Lekkerbek was closed back in 2014. The owners wrote a letter describing how the government forced them to close. You can find their letter online if interested. Sad story.
The plane as it sits today:
Continuing on... We stopped for drinks and then kept going. We were enjoying the view.
We also came across the Limited yacht.
The Simpson Bay bridge was up and we decided to turn back and head down to the place that Kia likes to stay at when she's here on vacation.
We were going down Billy Folly Rd and came across, what I believe is, The Pelican Resort Club. Only part of the resort was missing. Kia informed me that there is supposed to be an entire building that was 3 stories tall here, only now it's just the foundation and rubble. (Take a good look at the yellow wall).
This is the back side of it from the road above, So sad. Kia, got out to look at the resort that she stays at and it looked like it was in better shape than this place...it was still standing but problems with the roof and windows was apparent. However, the building to the left the roof was off and I believe she said it was one of the places they would always to go eat at and loved it there.
We headed back and this time the bridge was open.
Tricia's Perfumes seems to have made it out fine, but the Mega Gym next door...no roof and not many windows.
I believe Kia said she worked at one of these places in this building when she first moved to St Maarten
More buildings in the Simpson Bay area with no walls or roof and there was plenty of rebuilding going on while other places just sit from the devastation. Then there were other places that were entirely gone!
Car's along the airport road that have been abandoned and flipped over. Here's a car that is flipped on its side and leaning against the fence.
We decided to stop at Simpson Bay for a few minutes and check it out. We weren't sure if we wanted to stay for a while or continue on.
You can find that review located here:
We didn't stay very long here, even though Sakari was trying her best to "let's just swim!" It really didn't look like an appealing place to be at the moment and it was very deserted. So, we decided to move on as much as Sakari pouted.
So out we went....
We would head out and around the airport. There were boats and yachts everywhere still flipped over.
Something as simple as seeing these leafless palm trees was so sad to me.
There were boats that had run aground. We also seen something that looked like a Pirate ship.