Saint-Martin: field study to analyze the situation of buildings degraded by Irma

The state and the community of Saint-Martin launch a field study to analyze the situation of buildings damaged by the passage of hurricane Irma, which devastated the island last September.

As the hurricane season resumes in June, a team of eight experts, mandated by the State, will spend from April 16 to May 21 "in neighborhoods and areas considered priority for analyzing the damage suffered by individual homes and collective ", indicate the State and the community Monday in a joint communique.

In the protocol they signed in November, the community of Saint-Martin and the state had planned to establish "a precise diagnosis of the territory, equipment, buildings and the situation of the people, to evaluate the consequences of the hurricane ", they recall.

This inspection aims to" contribute effectively to the reconstruction of Saint-Martin, by allowing the community to know precisely which buildings must be secured in priority and to set up a new strategy of urban planning, "they explained.

On 5 and 6 September, Irma damaged 95% of the building on Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy, or 20,000 buildings.

The total cost of Insured losses were estimated at 1.83 billion euros by the insurance companies: 990 million for Saint-Martin and 840 for Saint-Barthélemy.

In early March, while the community of Saint-Martin had presented n investment plan of nearly 200 million euros for the reconstruction of public infrastructure under its jurisdiction (schools, networks …), the State announced that it would finance a third of investments (for a total of 66.4 million euros), corresponding notably to the reconstruction of four schools, a sports hall, all the electricity networks and the renovation of part of the social housing stock. The president of the territorial community of St. Martin, Daniel Gibbs, said he was disappointed by these announcements.

The deputy of Saint-Martin Claire Guillon-Firmin (LR) also denounced mid-March "disappointing ads and illusory, "noting that, six months after the hurricane," nearly 1,000 people remain homeless. "

Overseas Minister Annick Girardin had indicated on March 20" urgently requested an answer to help the 1,700 houses that still do not have roofs. "

" Within six months, we must have protected all citizens, "she said in early March, during a visit in St. Martin.

In Saint-Martin, victims of Irma between fatality and precarious reconstruction

March 16th, I'm 16 years old. It's a shame, I wanted a nice birthday, "blows the young Leonella Carty, in front of the ruins of the house where she lives, in Orleans District, with her grandmother and her six brothers and cousins.

Front the building whose roof, doors and windows were washed away in September by winds exceeding 350 km / h, a silver gray tent was planted, provided by the Red Cross: the family spent a few weeks there , time to clean a small annex, three small rooms invaded by the sea but whose concrete roof resisted

"There was mud everywhere. We cleaned, rubbed, rubbed. We had to throw everything away, Irma is an experience, "stresses the girl without any irony, who" lost all her clothes. "

Before the hurricane, all had gone to take refuge at an aunt's house in Friar's Bay, "We did not expect that," remembers the teenager in Grade 3.

"Grandmother did not speak, she did not want to talk anymore. My aunt told me + it's because she's sad. She has worked, she has perspired for that and she has to throw everything away. "

At 56, Josephine Dormoy, the grandmother, deals alone with her grandchildren, aged 4 to 18 years. Against "the government that does not help people". "I bought the bed, the fridge".

For now, she does not think to repair her house. is "in prison in England", the priority is to "send money."

The teenager has other concerns that the next hurricane season: "Me first, I have to spend the patent. "

Further on, Louisette Beausol, 58, lives with her six children and six grandchildren in what remains of her house covered with tarpaulins, while stretched linens try to recreate a semblance of a curtain masks the shower, another the toilet

But "it's good, it's standing", observes Louisette, "my neighbor, it's all on the floor". mattress, linen, fridge, but the Red Cross gave us some ". To rebuild? "We're going to put cinderblocks," she said, shrugging her shoulders.

– 'comme je peut' –

On the roof of another house, two men nailed planks to replace the blue tarpaulins that covered the structure. One of them, Gilbert, 50, owns it.

He buys the material "partly Dutch" because "it's cheaper". "I repair as I can," he says, and "I built the house alone," which was "not assured".

"Here, we rebuild little by little", adds on the other side of the street, Maurice Hodge, 58 years old. He bought his new windows in Santo Domingo because "there is not enough material here", and redone the roof "cement" because "the sheets are gone I do not know where". "Some say it's dangerous if there is an earthquake, but the earthquakes are not every year."

"We measure the fear of people, they all want concrete roof terraces", emphasizes Frédérick Renault, technical animator of the Compagnons Bâtisseurs, who started in the sector their first building site for rebuilding roofs and roofs, for disadvantaged people.

This association will undertake in twenty months 25 sites on Orleans Quarters and Sandy Ground, two neighborhoods particularly affected, with the help of young local volunteers or metropolis, explains the coordinator, Olivier Scherrer.

Houses were selected based on size, feasibility, and social criteria. It was also necessary that the families helped agree to participate in the work.

"It's not a good mortar, it crumbles," worries Frédérick, scratching the wall. "Often these are self-built houses, they do what they can, often for financial reasons."

The objective, he summarizes, is to "redo better", but he already recognizes "difficulties of supply" because "everyone is rebuilding at the same time".