While Macron’s administration has been criticized for its slow response to the Saint Martin’s disaster and was at times jeered by people waiting for aid supplies or hoping to catch flights to France in order to escape the devastation, he on Tuesday he promised the island will be rebuilt.
The French President promised some 50 million Euros to get started, adding according to CNN: “When such a thing happens, life is never the same again. I want to rebuild not just a new life but also a better life. I am here to talk about reconstruction.”
The cost of repairing the damage on the French-governed Saint Barthelemy and St Martin has, however, been put at a whopping 1.2bn euros (£900m).
But some residents, angered by the slow response of aid questioned while Macron was there as others said they are hoping to leave as soon as possible. He agreed the situation is very critical but said he hoped changes would be noticeable by week’s end as his government has “ordered one of the largest air lifts [of aid] since World War II.”
Macron also said that “everybody who wants to leave will be able to,” even as officials say that about 2,000 of the 35,000 residents on the French side of Saint Martin had already left in recent days. The French President’s plane brought water, food and tons of medicines and emergency equipment to the island. He was also accompanied by doctors and experts who will be in charge of evaluating the damage. About 1,500 troops, police and emergency workers are currently on the ground and some 500 others were expected to arrive in the coming days, according to French authorities to deal with the looting and violence that occurred in the aftermath of the September 6th storm.
Ensuring a return to normal life is an “absolute priority, Macron said, speaking while still on the tarmac soon after landing in Guadeloupe before leaving for Saint Martin. Macron is set to tour St. Barts today as well which has also been badly hit by Irma. Fifteen were killed on Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy by Irma.
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