One month has passed since the most powerful hurricane in recorded history went right over our tiny island of St. Maarten - St-Martin.
We are the kind of people who have experience with tropical cyclons. A category 2 hurricane, which would cause mandatory coastal evacuation in the USA, just motivates us to close window shutters and to order another beer in our favorite pub.

Many of the island residents remember powerful Hurricane Luis, hitting SXM on almost the same day of the month, but 22 years ago. We all thought it can't get any worse than that. Boy, were we wrong!
The fury of a category 5+ storm can't be described; the howling, rumbling, sound of debris crashing into ones home, shaking of the complete building, of the roof ready to lift off, water pushing through every crevice, flooding of living quarters... everyone's experience was different - none easy, for most traumatic.
Directly after the storm, there is the initial disbelieve in the carnage visible around, not recognizing ones neighborhood anymore. People who lost everything they own are roaming the streets, looking for help. And the bottom dwellers of society smell their pathetic little chance to benefit from the disaster around: looters break into the remaining buildings which weathered the hurricane somewhat intact.
Where to get food, water, shelter are the challenges of the first days after the catastrophe. The question arises if the island will be able to rebuild. Because the visual impact of the devastation is so strong that even the most positive minds struggle to believe in a future.
While the average person battles for survival, the political posturing of the ruling elites has already started, making the differences of the Dutch and the French side very apparent. Here the generous, instant and professional disaster relief from France, in stark contrast to the South's refusal to accept assitance by the Dutch, the hesitance in enpowering the Dutch Marine soldiers to step in and stop the looting. Than the absurd closing of the boarders by a Prime Minister, who days later denyes of ever having given these orders...
Thousands upon thousands of persons evacute the island on military planes send by various countries or by chartered cruise ships.
The nights go by in darkness. There is an initial curfew of 6 PM.
But work is being done: every day, clean up crews clear up the debris, work through mind numbing heat in the toughest conditions and manage to make a huge difference: as soon as the worst obstacles are removed from the roads, some sidewalks cleared, all looks allready so much better.
A week or two into the disaster comes the news that the first neighborhoods have electricity again, some even water.
In the Simpson Bay region, some restaurants and bars re-open. The curfew is pushed to 9 PM and later to midnight. The first cold beer becomes a powerful symbol of the return of civilisation.
Now, one month after the storm, we are still in surrvival mode; but at least we, who remain here, are now convinced that Sint Maarten - Saint Martin will be rebuild into an even more fantastic vacation destination, creating opportunities for all residents. We also understand that we have to earn this with our own hard work.
While huge parts of the island are still not back on grid, Simpson Bay has become the nucleus of commercial activity. Here, we have resorts with rooms intact, great beaches and some of the visitor's favorite restaurants already open again. The international airport accepts commercial flights again by October 10th, the first cruise ship is expected for the 11th of November and will stimulate the opening of stores in Philipsburg. And by the middle of December, there will be enough attractions rebuild to wholeheartedly invite visitors back to the island to have a vacation of a life time!