Natural disasters in the Caribbean amplify the vulnerability of the marginalized groups and fragile ecosystems by exposing the deep-rooted neo-colonial inequalities that frame the life of the majority of the populations living in the region. Natural disasters used to be defined with a clear distinction between natural hazards and human-caused (anthropogenic) or man-made disasters. A natural hazard is caused by nature and considered an uncontrollable phenomenon, which can include hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, floods, droughts, and volcanic eruptions.

Yet, a complete separation between natural and human-caused disasters is no longer acceptable. Humanity is influencing the natural world in such a fashion that it is impacting the climate and the strength and frequency of natural disasters. Governments increase the severity of the impact of the natural hazards when they do not provide adequate relief, or when they use these events to displace or get rid of the poorest people or foreigners who inhabit the region. This was critically apparent on the island of St. Martin after Hurricane Luis, a category 4 hurricane, struck St. Martin on September 5th and 6th, 1995 and destroyed most of the island.

Hurricane Luis 1995

A comparison between the Dutch side, Sint Maarten and the French side, Saint-Martin shows the advent, impact, and aftermath of Hurricane Luis. The Dutch side thoroughly prepared: food and drinking water was stored in large quantities at fourteen ‘stormproof’ shelters on the island, but immediately after the hurricane, individuals started looting. Dutch Marines were called in to restore order – this halted the commencement of the recovery process. On the French side, recovery began immediately with homes and roads, but the richer neighborhoods were given clear priority while the main immigrant neighborhood, Cité Popo, was razed and foreigners’ houses were burned down. Saint-Martin side was also less affected compared to Sint Marteen. On the Dutch side 80% of the buildings were destroyed, and at least 7000 individuals became homeless, including undocumented migrants, especially once neighborhoods were razed. In Simpson Bay Lagoon, a harbor with a reputation of being the safest in the Caribbean, 1,300 boats sunk.

Hurricane Irma 2017

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Saint-Martin at work, Marigot
Tribute to Basquiat, Hotel Mercure
Installation, Friar's Bay
Vodou Spirits Dancing, Hotel Mercure
Saint-Martin at work, Marigot
Saint-Martin at work, Marigot
Portrait, Sandy Ground
Damage from Hurricane Irma in Oyster Pond
A Wall of Murals, Sandy Ground
Mural by Jimmy Saba, Sandy Ground
"Make love, not war," Hotel Mercure
"I choose to be happy...," Hotel Mercure
Tribute to Mondrian, Hotel Mercure
Beach Hotel, Sandy Ground
Saint-Martin at work, French Quarter
Saint-Martin at work, French Quarter
Saint-Martin at work, French Quarter
Boats, Hotel Mercure
Barber Shop, Sandy Ground
What is left of the Sandy Ground bakery...
Tribute to Bacon, Hotel Mercure
Pharmacy in Marigot
Ebenezer Methodist church in Marigot
Residential buildings in Concordia
Former Hospital in Marigot
Storefront in Marigot
Main Street in Marigot
Marina in Marigot in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma
Marigot Prefecture
Repairs in Marigot a year after Hurricane Irma
Remains of a Marigot restaurant following Hurricane Irma
Damaged Store in Marigot
Marigot real estate company
Saint-James neighborhood
Damaged seafront house, Marigot
Destroyed Second Floor
Destroyed Air Conditioning
Alley, Grand-Case
Bike in Grand-Case
Blue walls and white balconies
Runners in blue on a Sunday morning, Grand-Case
Beach in Grand-Case
Car in Grand-Case
Porch in Grand-Case after Irma
Grand-Case Mary Star of the Sea Church
Mural on a Small Building in Grand-Case
Mr. Simmon, Grand-Case
La Bohême's door, Grand-Case
Flag Painting
Mural in Grand-Case
Graffiti Lips
Map of St. Martin
Grand-Case medical office
Menu of Destroyed Restaurant
Building in Grand-Case
Creole Rock mural in Grand-Case
Taking photographs on a sunny Sunday morning
Grand-Case home
Red Roofed Home
Destroyed Restaurant in Grand-Case
Stairs and rubble in Grand-Case after Hurricane Irma
Tarp Shelter
Yellow House, Grand-Case
Cole Bay
Graffiti in Cole Bay
Ocean Club, Cupecoy
Sunken Boat
Maho Beach and St. Martin's airport after Hurricane Irma
Aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Cul-de-Sac
"Homeless" Camp in Concordia, Marigot
Emergency tent camp for displaced people
Men Rebuilding Cité Popo
Mr. Marcelin's letter to his lawyers (back)
Mr. Marcelin's letter to his lawyers (front)
Lawyers inspecting burnt houses owned by Haitian nationals
Mr. Marcelin standing by his house
Coralita Hotel Wasteland, Oyster Pond
Mr. Marcelin's Portrait
Mr. Marcelin’s house set on fire by the city hall
“Tenth Station of the Cross” Church of Marigot
Marigot before Luis
Aftermath of Hurricane Luis, Orient Bay
Sunken boats in Simpson Bay Lagoon
Boarded stores in Marigot
Flooded street
A Shell gas station boarded up
Drying laundry on lines after Luis
Grand-Case airport after Hurricane Luis
A Chinese store in Philipsburg the day after Luis
Cleaning day in Marigot following Luis
Ram's Market
Tractor removing debris after Hurricane Luis
Ram's Market after Hurricane Luis
A woman and a child saving their goods
Military troop on top of Ram's Market
Cité Popo, the day after
Military troops walking through a neighborhood on the Dutch Side
Pelican Resort Hurricane Relief Center
Trump's Villa, Lowlands
Birds on leafless trees after Hurricane Luis

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