Sandrine’s Story: Life After Irma

A man stands in the rubble all around him following Hurricane Irma.

Two weeks ago, the beautiful island of St. Martin was decimated by Category 5 Hurricane Irma. Surrounded by salt water, residents had no drinkable water after the storm severely damaged the island’s water treatment facilities.

Within a few days, Water Mission engineer, Tim Darms, landed in St. Martin, ready to respond with safe water. Since his arrival, Darms has been working alongside Samaritan’s Purse and the Dutch Coast Guard to install four reverse osmosis (RO) water purification systems for the island. More are scheduled to be installed in the coming days.

Water Mission set up reverse osmosis water treatment systems following Hurricane Irma.

Throughout our response to Hurricane Irma, we have heard many testimonies from people who lived through the storm. This is Sandrine’s story.

“There I was,” explains Sandrine, “looking around at this apocalyptic landscape. I saw thousands of people who had lost their homes, mothers walking around aimlessly, holding their babies, families looking for their relatives under the [rubble]. I saw so much desperation, so much pain and there was nothing we could do. The devastation was so immense, even the authorities were powerless. We knew help was on the way, but every passing minute seemed like hours, hours like days…”

The damage done by Hurricane Irma was extensive.

Sandrine has called St. Martin home all her life, minus a few years she spent living in Charleston, SC, with her husband. It was during that time that a friend introduced her to Water Mission.

“When I met you all I thought to myself, what a wonderful and dedicated organization! I never imagined I would desperately need your help one day. [In St. Martin], the damages are colossal. 95 percent of our infrastructure is in ruin, our electrical and water plants are destroyed, and most of our homes, supermarkets, and workplaces are gone.”

– Sandrine

A survivor walks down a street on St. Martin following Hurricane Irma.

We are continuing to respond in St. Martin as well as assessing the need on neighboring islands. Following a natural disaster, safe water plays a key part in restoring life and hope as well as serving as a barrier between those we serve and deadly disease. We are honored to be able to provide for others in their most desperate times.

“To all those at Water Mission, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here. You have been with us when we needed you the most. God bless you all. We [St. Martiners] are resilient, we are strong, and we will rebuild every rock and stone – thanks to all of you.”

– Sandrine

Water Mission partners with Samaritan's Purse to bring safe water following Hurricane Irma.

Water Mission's safe water treatment system that provides safe water to St. Martin.

In the wake of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean, along with two massive earthquakes in Mexico, our staff are busy assessing each disaster situation and will work diligently to respond as needed to the most urgent areas.

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