SIMPSON BAY—Red Cross St. Maarten plans to stop accepting new registrants for its Home Repair Program on May 26. After that, only people who have already registered can receive Red Cross help with materials for their roofs, windows, walls and doors in the final stage of the year-long repair program.
People who are still under tarpaulins or whose house still suffers from some exterior damage can contact Red Cross to join the Home Repair Program, which is busy helping improve homes for hundreds of people on the island. Red Cross has provided food and shelter aid to the island for the more than 18 months since Hurricane Irma devastated the island.
Red Cross expects to be finished with the program by the end of August, says Birgit Vaes, HRP Program Manager. The Home Repair Program has been responsible for assessing hundreds of homes in nine areas of Dutch St. Maarten: Cay Bay, Cay Hill, Cole Bay, Dutch Quarter, Fort Willem, Middle Region, Over the Bank, St. Peters and Sucker Garden.
“Our monitoring visits will continue for people who have already registered to help them complete their repairs, but we won’t be accepting new households into the Home Repair Program,” Vaes said. “It is very important that people who need help with materials contact us by the deadline on May 26.”
Red Cross deploys teams to determine how much need a household has and for everyone who qualifies, to advise on repairs and materials. Red Cross provides materials for free through a material list that beneficiaries can take to local suppliers and a brief training course and a manual for performing proper repairs. Everyone who qualifies for the repair program receives advice from Red Cross’ team of professional architects and engineers. Those beneficiaries are eligible for extra support, if needed, until July 20.
As home repair work winds down, Red Cross will be introducing new projects in cooperation with other St. Maarten organizations to further help with the recovery of Irma and the enhancement of the resilience of the island, through funding for example job opportunity projects and skills training, says Head of Mission Fanny de Swarte. The Red Cross plans to launch its new programs before the end of August.
“Since the beginning of the Home Repair Program, our goal has been to provide safe, resilient housing for the people of St. Maarten,” said De Swarte. “Now, we are working on other projects to complement the island’s redevelopment in collaboration with local organizations.”
Red Cross has provided hundreds of thousands dollars in aid to St. Maarten since Hurricane Irma in September 2017 – some of it in early relief efforts with tarps and bottled water and such and the rest in recovery and aid program. Red Cross donated thousands of breakfasts and lunches to schoolchildren across Dutch St. Maarten through its school feeding program and provided money to households to buy groceries in its food voucher program. Both of those programs have ended.
People who have questions about Red Cross programs can contact the organization at 545-2333 or 545-2304.