Well, I’m probably over-posting on Facebook about Hurricane Irma and the devastation it caused in Saint Martin. I have an awful lot to say about it, though, especially as new updates keep coming through. I figure if you want to know what I have to say about the situation, you’ll read this. And look– here you are!
Med Students are OK
After a semi-sleepless night a couple days ago and plenty of tears, I finally started hearing from friends who had been out of contact for a day after the storm.
The people who sheltered in American University of the Caribbean are safe, and not only that, anyone with any medical training (even first semester med students) are volunteering in a makeshift clinic! They even delivered a baby! What a birth story.
Many of the students, spouses and kids were able to evacuate to Puerto Rico. Many others, mostly students, stayed behind.
Tom and Lisa are OK
If you follow me on social media, you probably know a bit about Tom and Lisa Burnett, who ran Player Development Program in Sint Maarten.
I used to go there most days to tutor and mentor the kids. Player Development blew away and the pieces are yet to be found.
But Tom and Lisa (plus their four dogs) are safe! I could breathe easier after I found that out. Their neighborhood was hit very hard.
They survived the storm huddled on a mattress under their table, both of them plus of the four dogs. They stayed there all day, through the storm and even after their roof was ripped off. I am shaking right now just thinking about it.
Still Waiting to Hear from Local Friends
I started following more SXM residents on social media to keep up with videos and photos. Many people seem to be OK and in shelter, but strictly rationing food and water, and in perhaps in pain.
The need help but it is hard to know what to do. Samaritan’s Purse has a fund now, and I they are delivering much needed help! If you want to help, give to them. But I haven’t heard much else, although a friend of mine with a Canadian Rotary Club is planning to try to ship down supplies and suggested that I call my local airport to see which airlines are willing to ship relief supplies down.
I haven’t heard from too many people since the main cell tower was taken out by the storm, and the power company as well, I believe.
Our former foster son, Roland and Laura Richardson, the families from my baseball team, the foster homes, the staff at the medical school, and many other friends still aren’t online yet. So keep praying.
I just keep thinking about how bad I’ve been at communication lately. My life is so out of control right now and I put everyone else on the back burner. I guess you don’t realize you’re doing that until your friends are in a life-threatening situation and you remember that the last thing you said was some stupid thing about doughnuts or worse, nothing at all for the past few weeks.
There’s nothing like the fear that you might have lost someone to make you think of all the stuff you wish you said to them last week.
I think I’m going through the stages of grief. I’m partially in denial, because how can those photos be real when they don’t match my memories? That flooded street covered in debris was a sunlit lane when I walked down it just a few months ago.
I can close my eyes and go back to the way it was. I can see and hear and feel and smell every part of the island.
I can hear the way it sounds to knock on the door of one of my baseball kid’s house. In my mind it is still there.
I can feel the gravel at player development under my feet and see the books and toys and everything.
I can see the view from my old balcony like I am standing there again. Pretty sure that balcony blew away.
I can taste the shawarmas at Little Jerusalem and hear the “clink, clink” of Abe and Cathy chopping up meat on the grill.
But then there are those photos of the destruction, the videos of the looting. It’s hard to reconcile.
I Should Be There
And there is this overwhelming sense of guilt, because somehow I feel like I am supposed to be there.
Maybe I wouldn’t be saying this if I’d actually gone through it, but I’d rather have stuck out the day in AUC, where the hurricane shelter was strong and safe, than be here wondering and waiting and watching from afar.
I’d rather be out dragging palm fronds off the street right now. Or something else useful. Maybe that sounds dumb, and maybe it is dumb.
It’s stupid to want to be stuck on an island when so many people are suffering and desperately awaiting help and wanting to leave.
I feel stupid. And useless.
People reading this are probably going to think I’m trying to be some kind of weird martyr or something, but I think I’m just really emotional and stressed out.
I actually called Jet Blue yesterday to find out if I can fly down and when, but I couldn’t get through because they’re too busy handling the crisis.
I don’t even know what I would do if I did go. It’s not like they need more people to use up rations, anyway.
So anyway, now we’re both depressed, you’re welcome. Maybe I should go back to journaling instead of blogging.
That’s what things look like from my perspective.
Now just waiting for Irma to hit Florida, and I can’t wait until that is done and the power is back and I can hear from everyone.