Published On: Mon, Sep 25th, 2017

Gracita calls for a real national debate on reconstruction

Gracita Arrindell“A heartfelt appreciation to HRH King Willem Alexander for his presence and solidarity with the people of Sint Maarten during these most difficult times. Giving hope and sincerely expressed solidarity to rebuild and support in time of great distress is greatly appreciated and  will not be forgotten.”

Gracita calls for a real national debate on reconstruction with the input from our citizens

“The people of Sint Maarten want to know where they stand, which direction are we heading into. Time for a national debate on the re-building that includes the people is now.”

Gracita states: “First, my deep felt condolences goes out to all who have lost a loved one, a family, a friend, or a beloved pet in the aftermath of the hurricanes. Gratitude goes out to every first responder, every ordinary citizen who lost their homes, businesses or parts thereof and still went out of his or her way to selflessly volunteer and assist another person in dire need. Kudos to all the police, military, coastguard, marines, locally established, and those who came from within the KINGDOM or elsewhere. Many still present to assist in whatever task they were assigned to do.  God Bless you!

There are so many more to say Thank you to, including; doctors & staff,  clean up crews,  GEBE, radio stations, especially laser 101, and others who via the social media did their part in a positive  way to ease or lessen the stress so many are  dealing with now. Strangers helping each other, sharing meals and other items.
Gracita said: “This is the Sint Maarten social spirit I know we must focus on. This is the Sint Maarten kindness and friendlyness I saw and embraced.  Not the ugliness. The latter does not define who we are as a People. As time trickles by and impatience grows, we must keep a cool head, now more than ever.

Photo caption: “What is left of my home: with my brother Rufino ( left) holding our sxm flag and his partner Roxanne holding the Dutch flag!” writes Gracita Arrindell.

In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, we must first give thanks for life. To God Be the Glory.  Sint Maarten shall rise again.

However it cannot and must never be business as usual. Many residents are confused and frustrated, and afraid. Understandably so. Our citizens, our valued tourist, must receive a clear, unambiguous message, that real issues will be dealt with poste-haste. Not behind closed doors only, and tell residents after.  The official messages must be short, timely, consistent, dependable, trusted, open and transparent.

“The People want to know!, They deserve to be heard and included in the discussions and consequent redevelopment of our beautiful island. We are only 37 square miles, now with less people than before the destruction of  the hurricanes. A real national debate on reconstruction with the input from our citizens.  The format is known, it can be done.”

Arrindell states:” There is not one political party, not one political person that is greater than Sint Maarten. None! This is a great opportunity to clean up literally and figuratively. Re-group and re-build, smarter, better, with the well- being and prosperity of the People first, not last.

Arrindell states; “I have always been known as a dedicated no-nonsense person when it comes to working for our island in any capacity entrusted. Going forward here are some issues I hope to see included in the current plans. None of the issues below should be in complicated time consuming reports. Not necessarily in order of importance these are:

  • A national information plan for local and international consumption.  Present ‘Drip form’ (mis)communication is doing more harm than good to Sint Maarten and our People. Daily, reliable, trustworthy government information is critical.
  • Update our safety and security plan asap.  People do not feel safe, whether imagined or not. Update the re-evacuation reports. Deport all persons who have committed crimes and found guilty.
  • Include the leaders of the community councils in the re-building plans. Sint Maarten consists of Districts ( 15-17). We are fortunate  not having to deal with millions of people. Our issues are manageable, short term- midterm and long term, if its done right.
  • Enact a new building code, with grace period for present temporary construction, that includes all key institutions such as schools, government buildings, utility companies, airport, telecom companies, banks, hospitals, hotels, large supermarkets, pharmacy’s etc. community centers, senior citizens homes.
  • The new building code must include construction along the sea lines from the airport road downward, a few feet above ground, with walk ways, better view of the lagoon, complete underground cable etc.
  • Include two separate utility distribution points, one in Philipsburg and all surrounding areas, and one before the hill to Philipsburg. Each district should have water hydro’s and more designated cistern locations.
  • Finalize underground cable system once and for all.
  • Install sewage lines from airport straight down to Cay-bay.
  • Economic recovery plan should include a more efficient and shorter business license process, personal and business grace period and soft loans that people truly get a new start, speed up social housing.

Finally; “There is more, not in the least, dealing with the humongous filth and debris, and the growing ‘ Mount Everest’ dump in Philipsburg once and for all.

For now I conclude with this question, What kind of country do we want to be in the aftermath of this most recent natural disaster? A Nation of Many or a Nation of One?  A Nation of Any or a Nation of None? Let us put our differences aside for the sake of our future generations. If we fail to plan and not learn from past mistakes, we plan to fail. The latter is not an option.”

Gracita R. Arrindell
Leader, PPA