GUADELOUPE – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that the island of St. Martin will recover “quickly and well” from the devastating passage of Hurricane Irma, expressing his hope that some businesses will reopen next week.
Macron also attempted to end the political controversy over the delay in his government’s response to the destruction caused by the storm on the French islands of St. Martin – the Dutch side of which is known as St. Maarten – and St. Bartholemew, or St. Barts.
“This is not the time for any controversy... (because) the state was organized perfectly (and) the anticipation was complete” regarding the precise foreknowledge of when Irma would hit the Caribbean islands, Macron said at a press conference upon his arrival from Paris at the Pointe a Pitre airport in Guadeloupe, a French overseas department near the two islands in question.
Macron arrived from France on a jet also carrying experts in natural disasters and medical personnel, as well as water, food, medicine and emergency equipment.
After speaking with reporters, the French leader headed for St. Martin, the French side of the island.
He told the media that reconstruction will have his full support and he will respond “to the legitimate demands of the population.”
He also said that he had implemented “one of the biggest air bridges since World War II” and that although the death toll currently stands at 11, “it is possible” that more victims may be found because there are many collapsed buildings, the ruins of which may contain additional bodies.
“We will do it quickly and well. St. Martin will be reborn after this hurricane,” Macron stated.
In his visit to the French side of the island, Macron spoke with local residents, some of whom took advantage of his presence to request help and others to complain about the situation they were experiencing after the storm.
Macron promised them all that help is already on the way and that they will not be forgotten.
He also said that at the end of the week, potable water will once again be available and that the Internet will be back on line in a little over a day although electricity will take “a few days” to be available.
After his visit to St. Martin, the French leader traveled to St. Barts.