[IMG: Hurricane Georges making landfall on the Dominican Republic September 22, 1998; Credit: Dennis Chesters, Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, Craig Mayhew, and Hal Pierce, Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Caribbean Hurricane Page

Updates from the Islands
Georges - St.Maarten/St.Martin

Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 23:51:40 -0700
From: Elisa Cohen (bikinibeach@wanadoo.fr)

Dear Gert,
Ran off to Orlando for the Surf Expo (Beach Boutique merchandise !) and
almost saw Georges twice in Miami !!! NOT AT ALL ACCEPTABLE!!! There are
various properties closed on the Dutch side until December. Mostly
insurance claims. Some people take advantage of the event to go on
vacation ! Orient Beach looks GREAT !!! My hotel recieves its first guest
on Saturday. We had minimal damage isolated to  some air conditioner
"Capacitators" and paint. The vegetation needs some time to  regrow. (It
looks a bit like fall) but nothing too serious. I will take some pictures
tomorrow. Will send them JPEG Compressed if that is OK. Lots of people
have contacted me, to thank me for the reports. I would likr to thank
everyone who has been here, who will shortly be here for their confidence
and support for St. Martin/Sint Maarten. We were LUCKY with this one and
no one should be detered from visiting this year. If you were booked at
Maho, try switching to a smaller property on the French (or Dutch side) .
It looks like they will take this opportunity to remodel. Anyway the best
way to enjoy the CHARM of the Caribbean is by staying at a Smaller hotel,
renting a car and EXPLORING ! Thanks for the opportunity to report the

P.S. Most of the Dutch side has Water and electricity now !!!

Finally got around retyping the following press release from the St.Maarten Tourist Board by way of Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown Public Relations. -Gert

Post-Hurricane Georges Assessment
From: the St.Maarten Tourist Bureau

September 23, 1998

Forty-eight hours after Hurricane Georges passed 45 miles south of St.Maarten, Commissioner of Tourism, Julian Rollocks, reports that the island sustained the following minimal damage:

Leader of government and Commissioner of Public Works William Marlin stated that this morning, "Clean-up crews began removing debris immediately after the hurricane passed, and all major roads are cleared and cleaned. Today it's business as usual with shops, restaurants and hotels ready to extend their special brand of hospitality to cruise ship and air arrival passengers."

Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 15:50EDT - More pictures from St.Maarten (Dutch Side) after the hurricane. These were taken this morning by Wim ter Hart (wphart@megatropic.com), webcarib.com The pictures can be found on this page. -Gert
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 14:08:02 -0400 From: John Dovale (jlrdovale@megatropic.com) St.Maarten The storm struck us in the early morning hours (around 2 AM and lasted until 1230PM or thereabouts. The strongest portion of the winds were around 6 AM with reports of speeds up to 160 mph in the Simpsonbay Lagoon area and 110 mph in the Philipsburg area. As you know we were all expecting a CAT 4 / possibly CAT 5 so the whole island was battened down and ready for GEORGES. I am sure many people were relieved when the reports came in that the storm had dropped to 115 mph just before we were to feel the effects. Communications were partially cut-off when ANTELECOM neutralized the earthstation at around 8PM. TELEM disconnected their entire DATA network rendering all local leased lines inoperable which is why all Internet service from the island was non existant from that time onward. The only radio station which stayed online throughout the storm was LASER101.1 FM Radio and the were providing basically blow by blow reports from data which was extracted from any reputable source possible. In the early morning hours around 430AM some rescue crews and cleanup crews were already out clearing roads and moving debris. When I got outside from my home, I was relieved that my neighborhood did not look like BEIRUT during a bomb run (that is what it looked like in LUIS). All the homes and areas which had sustained damage during LUIS were now standing proud. I did not see any roofing loss except for some toolsheds which basically fell apart. For the most part the island had about a 10% damage ratio (compared to 100% in LUIS. No major structures or infrastructure was damaged. There were a few downed poles and lines which was understandable given the windforce. The ground was already drying up (there was not that much rain from this storm), and people were already cleaning up their surroundings. All debris (if any) was piled in locations where public works could easily manage and remove it. French officials had their side of the island up and running with electic and water in just 2 hours and from what I saw, there was little or no damage on that side, with the exception of possible beach erosion from the surge. On the dutch side we had electrical power outages for a few days after because of snapped poles, blown tranformers or downed lines. Some areas are still without due to difficulties getting things restored but it is not estimated to take much longer than a few days. All in all the island is in good shape. A few excited people (for those who experienced a hurricane for the first time), few damages, no deaths. That is great news compared to just a few years ago. I would expect that the island will recover its natural beauty within a month or so. This includes the trees and beaches. I have some images of the aftermath which I have attached - courtesy of NetworkIDL & Pete's Photo. The photos are shown on this page.
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 00:34:58 +0200 From: bertrand (luftman@club-internet.fr) Subject: Pictures of Orient Bay Saint-Martin Bonjour, You will find below the site where you can watch pictures of Day 1 hurricane Georges damages , as you will see there not to much problemes ; and we consider to be ready to welcome our first guest on time . you will have a daily report with photos that you can consult as you wish . to see the pictures , go to : http://www.la-plantation.com/photo.htm Bertrand Luftman La Plantation & Palm Court Resort on Orient Bay Resort
Following are snippets taken from the SXM Digest. -Gert Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 00:42:03 From: SXM Connect (sycron@sintmaarten.net) Subject: SXM Connect Digest #15 (Hurricane Update) Digest #15 - September 23 , 1998 #### MODERATOR COMMENT #### Dear Subscribers, After getting almost a hundred requests from people how the island is, I am sure you all have been waiting for this digest to get the latest information on the island. George came late Sunday night and on Tuesday we allready had power and water again. So, this gives you an idea of the situation on the island: BACK ON TRACK. Tomorrow, I will post some exclusive pictures of the day after on the site http://members.xoom.com/sxm/ But, the pictures look very dramatic eventhough it isn't. Like I said, the island is back in shape. ------------------ Dimitri - Moderator Keeping you posted on St. Maarten! ########## General Update Great Bay. St. Maarten, the entire Caribbean must have been united in prayers as the season's biggest hurricane, Georges, packed winds of up to 150 miles an hour and was approaching the region at a steady, conquering speed of 18 miles an hour by late Saturday, early Sunday. Then it dropped dramatically from an almost category 5 hurricane to a category 3 (125mph winds) in a matter of hours, but as it swept through the Lesser Antilles, pounding on St. Maarten late Sunday, throughout the morning of Monday , Spetember 21st with ferocious winds which wreaked havoc especially in the Cay Bay, Cole Bay and Simpson Bay areas. But Georges seemed to have reserved its most devastating blows for Saba and St. Eustatiuswhich, like St. Maarten three years earlier, were cut off from the rest of the world with the telecommunications infrastructure knocked out, and access to their respective airports impossible until Tuesday. About 90% of the infrastructure of Saba in terms of electricity had been wiped out, according to one report, estimated that between 60 and 100 homes had lost their roofs to hurricane Georges. The picture was not much better on St. Eustatius, where hardly any contacts could be established until Tuesday. ########### Clean-up efforts well underway Even before hurricane Georges was away from the island, the clean up efforts were well underway. Many residents began by cleaning up debris from their own yards and toting these to the roadside where the debris was picked up by the garbage companies. Truck loads of zinc and aluminum roofing materials and pieces of large trees were being carried to the dump on Tuesday. Utility workers were also out checking the water and electricity lines on Tuesday. ########## Damage less severe on the French side. Some houses, particularly those with flat roofs, did lose their roofs while several electricity poles collapsed and a number of large trees were unrooted. Following an extensive cleanup which began Sunday and continued on Monday, (earlier than the Dutch side), a number of food shops and supermarkets reopened for business on Tuesday! No looting had been reported there. Esperance Airport in Grand Case was opened on Sunday afternoon specially to allow a French air force plane to land with a reinforcement of 85 Gendarmes, who were sent to Martinique from France before the arrival of Georges in the French Antilles, as part of precautionary measures. Also onboard the plane were 100 French civil security natural disaster specialists to offer technical and medical assistance, as well as to maintain a presence in areas with no electricity. Schools were scheduled to open this morning after classrooms had been cleaned on Monday. (On the Dutch side, some schools are being used as shelters and therefore there is no school). ########## The Lt. Governor says Island is in good shape He sounded very optimistic when he announced that the general curfew will be lifted as of today. He also stressed that St. Maarten was very lucky not to sustain extreme damage during the passing of the hurricane. The curfew which lasted from 6pm to 6am was implemented to allow the clean-up crews, as well as utilities crews to work without interruption. He stressed that the clean-up is going very well, with Philipsburg and other areas allready wel underway. Frontstreet and Backstreet will be closed off today to allow total cleanup. Electricity and water supply should be back on line in most areas today. The Ducth Marines and Police will continue to patrol the unlighted areas to provide extra security. Flights and cruise passengers should resume again on Thursday. He stresses that the capital (Philipsburg) must be in order and look impressive before the island can welcome back visitors.
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 00:50:27 +0200 From: Enzo La Rosa (enzo@ctonline.it) Subject: Thank you Dear Gert, thank you very much for the services you rendered to the the entire community of St.Maarten/St. Martin. Many of the people that live in that island have relatives abroad and trough your pages we could get the latest news about the passage of Georges. I spoke to my parents, owners of La Rosa Restaurant, and they told me that there were no damages and that the restaurant wiil be open next Wednesday for business. They also told me that the damages around the island were not as heavy as with Luis. However, their feeling is that no time should be wasted to promote the island again. Ciao Enzo La Rosa enzo@ctonline.it
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 13:26:51 -0300 From: Mark and Karla Cleveland (marysboon@megatropic.com) Subject: Marys Boon OK! Dear Friends and Guests. Hi....thank you for the concern. We are all fine....no major problems from Hurricane George. Not much damage to the hotel, mainly gutters and 2 of our solar units went flying into the ocean. Just a lot of clean up which we should have done by this weekend. The new seawall really saved the rooms on the west end and held up very well. The Beach is in so, so shape but comes back within a week or so. No power yet, working with generators for the moment. The Island is getting back in shape very fast. Lots of people on the streets cleaning up. Plants and trees in pretty good shape as well, even a few flowers left on some of them! Lots of roofs gone all over the island, have'nt heard much yet on how the French side did. Well back to work, Thanks again for all the emails and hope to see you all again in St. Maarten real soon. Mark, Karla and Adam Cleveland Mary's Boon Beach Plantation (Mary's Boon is located on Simpson Bay Beach, Dutch Side, -Gert)

Earlier updates have been moved to this page.

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