Hurricane Irma has left a trail of destruction across the Windward Islands. Yesterday morning first thing we tried to get in touch with all 5 interns in the affected area. Four students are on St. Maarten and one is on St. Eustatius. They all follow the course Coastal and Marine Management. We also contacted the parents of the interns.
Quite soon we were able to establish contact with two German students. They were both safe, but couldn’t get in touch with the other two interns on the island. The Dutch student on St. Eustatius sent a whatsapp-message saying he was also safe.
At the end of the day we were able to contact the two Dutch students. Right before the storm there had been some contact with them; at that moment they were in a sturdy concrete building, together with 12 students of other schools. They had prepared very well for the period after the storm by stocking up on food and water. At 16:30 pm one of the parents had received a message saying both students were safe. The roof of the two-storey building was blown off though.
The area where the two students are was affected heavily, causing all networks and power to fail. VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL) will stay in close contact with Foreign Affairs, with the parents of all five students, with the other schools whose students are in the same building and with all the relevant authorities and people concerned. And of course, if possible, with the students.
At this moment passenger flights are still impossible, but the school aims to bring the students to the Netherlands as soon as possible.