The Aftermath of Irma: Anarchy In the West Indies and a Helping Hand From Canada

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

The Aftermath of Irma:  Anarchy In the West Indies and a Helping Hand From Canada

Million Mile SecretsThe Aftermath of Irma:  Anarchy In the West Indies and a Helping Hand From CanadaMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

  1. The beautiful island of St. Maarten is in shambles after its bout with Hurricane Irma.

Via Loop Trinidad & Tobago, it’s fallen into anarchy, marred with looting and murder.  Organized gangs walk the streets with guns and machetes, leaving upstanding members of society huddled nervously in the corner of their basements.

The Aftermath Of Irma Anarchy In The West Indies And A Helping Hand From Canada
The Destruction From Hurricane Irma Has Left the Once Idyllic Island of St. Maarten In Shambles

Very few have traveled to or from St. Maarten after the hurricane battered both the airport and seaport.  Food and water began to run low, and according to one resident, people have been killed! Though I’m certain there would be more reports of this if it were true.

Residents of St. Maarten had to send out multiple requests for help before the French and Dutch government sent reinforcements to neutralize the danger and keep peace on the island.

Thankfully, the Dutch military are now in control of the airport and have reopened it for military purposes.

A Glimmer of Humanity From WestJet

Natural disasters can sometimes bring out the worst in humankind.  Like a few days ago, when US airlines began gouging Floridian travelers trying to escape the hurricane.  But every once in a while, there’s a story that makes me feel warm and fuzzy again!

Canadian airline WestJet sent a flight to St. Maarten to help anyone evacuate the area, free of charge, with no ticket required!  Canadians and anyone else with permission to travel to Canada are welcome aboard.  The evacuees will land in Toronto later tonight.

This is an incredible life raft Canada is throwing folks stuck on the island.  I haven’t heard of any US airlines doing anything for our Caribbean friends (though I hope I’ve just somehow overlooked those headlines!).

The Aftermath Of Irma Anarchy In The West Indies And A Helping Hand From Canada
WestJet Is Sending a Boeing 737 to Bring Folks Back From the Tattered Island of St. Maarten

I love seeing the global community come together to solve problems and look out for one another.  And I really like what WestJet has done to help resolve a bit of the chaos in St. Maarten.  Unlike stories we’ve heard from other islands around the West Indies, who have had cries for help ignored…

On St. Thomas, a group of 35 tired and nervous travelers who had just endured Hurricane Irma were desperate to leave the island before the arrival of Hurricane Jose.  A Marriott-operated ferry with a capacity of ~600 passengers arrived on the island to transport ~300 Marriott guests to safety.  Despite their offensive surplus of accommodation, they left the 35 non-Marriott guests to weather the approaching storm.

And local authorities in Turks and Caicos have tangled evacuees in red tape, preventing them from leaving.

An Air Canada plane flew 95 electricians to Turks and Caicos to help the islands recover and rebuild their electrical grid after Hurricane Irma.  They planned to fill the plane with evacuees for the flight back to Canada, but the local government wouldn’t let them go due to security issues.

I’m not going to pretend I know more about the situation in these areas than the folks in charge who are on-site.  But it seems like bureaucracy is inhibiting altruism when it matters most.

Bottom Line

St. Maarten is struggling to recover from Hurricane Irma.  But its biggest problem at the moment is opportunists who would rather loot than help their fellow islanders repair the country.

Lots of travelers are still trapped in St. Maarten.  But WestJet has sent a plane to escort folks out of the Caribbean and up to Toronto.  Free of charge!

I love this move by WestJet, and I hope to see similar acts by US airlines to help relieve the burden these hurricanes have causes so many.  Keep up the good work, WestJet!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 36,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Wow, what a contrast. Westjet, a Canadian company, takes anybody from any country to safety that needs it. Marriott, an American company, abandons 30 americans that the US coast guard sent to them to take on their boat to safety when they have 200 empty seats, taking only their own customers.

Let’s tone down the hysteria thousands have not been killed by in St Martin some looting mostly for food and water both French and Dutch governments in control and USA also providing support