I've been scrolling through my photos of SXM, from my most recent trip taken this past March, and it's so very depressIng to realize that much of what I saw, enjoyed, walked past, ate a meal at, photographed, excursioned, etc... is either destroyed and piled in a heap of debris or blown into the Caribbean Sea, heavily damaged and will have to be torn down and rebuilt or simply stripped bare and wiped from the surface of the island. This is truly devastating for the island and will take many, many years to put right. Nothing has been left unaffected.....people's lives, basic island infrastructure and services, resorts/hotels and related tourism businesses and the ports of entry to the island (PJIA, Grand Case airport and the ship terminals).
The silver lining is that when everything is rebuilt, it will be hurricane proof for the future.
I'll have to respectfully disagree with you on that.
Firstly, hurricane proof to what level on the Saffir-Simpson scale? This was a category 5 hurricane, I believe. Storms of all kinds are increasing ever more in size and power, and I think that the trend will continue for some time to come. Katrina was a record hurricane back in 2005 and Irma has eclipsed that one in size and strength.
Secondly, St. Maarten is certainly not a rich island, in terms of financial wealth or natural resources. It will take millions of dollars and years to clean up and rebuild. I think that smaller businesses will find it too cost prohibitive to rebuild to any hurricane building standard. The island is chiefly dependent on tourism, which has now been stopped dead in its tracks for who knows how long? Sure, I can see items like the airport, utilities, some governmental buildings and many more private businesses spending money and rebuilding to the strictest code possible, but I think that is where it will stop.
Finally, I think that there is going to have to be some compromising done between the French and Dutch side governments and businesses to get them built quickly and get the island's life blood flowing again, even if that means NOT rebuilding to withstand a category 4 or 5 hurricane. France may be able to help out financially more than The Netherlands can, because of how each side is governed and connected to those countries, by form of government. It's going to come down to economics. It was 22 years and 1 day since the last hurricane, Luis, hit the island as fully as Irma just did. St. Maarten could go another 20-25 years before the next hurricane hits or it could suffer another monster storm in 2018.
I certainly am hoping for the best and broadest possible positive outcome, but that is going to have to wait for some time as there will likely be deaths to deal with, massive clean up to get underway and basic necessities such as electricity, food, water and sanitation to restore.