Red Cross Sint Maarten

Red Cross to begin home repairs in new districts

SIMPSON BAY—Red Cross St. Maarten will start visiting damaged homes in Cole Bay, Cay Bay and Cay Hill as the year-long Home Repair Program continues.

Red Cross technical officer Mike De Pinto and technical team lead Åsa Jonsson talk with a beneficiary during a recent home visit. Red Cross teams have started visits to beneficiaries in Cole Bay, Cay Hill and Cay Bay as the Home Repair Program continues. (Sammy Slot photo)

The program provides materials to fix the roofs of people whose homes had been damaged in Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

Red Cross, also, provides technical assistance to households that qualify for the program, which aims to help Dutch St. Maarten residents with the greatest and most urgent need.

The program is already active in Dutch Quarter, Sucker Garden, Middle Region, Over the Bank, Fort Willem and St Peters where, already, residents have received visits and support for their repairs.

Head of Mission Fanny de Swarte said she hoped that the Home Repair Program would have started sooner. Red Cross prefers to work with local staff. There was a shortage due to the amount of repairing and reconstruction that needed to take place. Red Cross hired an international team of engineers and architects to provide quality technical advice to households here to improve their homes, a project that is part of the Netherlands Red Cross’ Hurricane Irma Recovery Mission.

“At the moment, over 450 families have been assessed and more than 300 families have received financial and technical assistance,” said De Swarte, a disaster management expert. “The first 46 houses have received their final visit and have repaired their roofs according to the guidelines from VROMI and Red Cross.” 

In the Home Repair Program, Red Cross interviews residents to determine the amount of damage the house sustained and the amount of need the family or individual has. Eligible residents become beneficiaries of the program and receive a bill of quantities (also called a material list), a document that shows the materials needed for their repairs. It takes about 45 days after the first visit for Red Cross to completely assess the home and prepare the BOQ.

Project manager Birgit Vaes said she is working toward reducing the length of time spent waiting by beneficiaries between visits of Red Cross staff to ensure that people receive their BOQs and collect their materials by June 1, when the hurricane season starts.

“Once a family receives a first visit from a Red Cross team, they will be invited to a workshop on hurricane-resistant repairs and will receive a BOQ to buy material,” Vaes said. “We aim to have assisted with the repair of around 1,000 houses before the start of next hurricane season.”

In 2019, Red Cross is hoping to collaborate more with other NGOs on St. Maarten. In addition to home repairs, Red Cross wants to launch projects that focus on community-based disaster risk reduction, psychosocial support, work readiness and vocational training intended to make residents more resilient.

The Red Cross also supports the Waste2Work project, an entrepreneurship training and stimulus program that operates on the island. The first startup is an upcycle center that aims to turn debris into, among other things, furniture.

In the weeks following Hurricane Irma, Red Cross staff and volunteers distributed more than 11,000 tarps, 8,000 food parcels and 116,000 liters of water. In the first half of 2018, Red Cross provided vouchers to more than 4,200 households to buy groceries in the Food Voucher Program, which ended in August. Red Cross, also, fed more than 3,100 children with breakfast and lunch every school day for several months during the School Feeding Program, which ended in June. Already, Red Cross has through various programs invested 8.1 million euros of money donated by residents of the Netherlands toward St. Maarten’s recovery.

Residents can call Red Cross to register or with questions at 545-2333 or 545-2304.