Four Van Hall Larenstein and WUR students were on Sint Maarten for research when hurricane Irma hit the island. They are doing fine.
© US Navy under license CC
According to ecologist Erik Meesters of Wageningen Marine Research, the four students are doing an internship on Sint Maarten during which they are to perform restoration work on the coral. All four are students of VHL, with two of them doing a minor in Wageningen. WUR is running such restoration projects in Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten. ‘A rotation of students was just taking place.’
Until yesterday evening, Meesters had not been able to contact the students. Van Hall Larenstein has since received word that the four are doing fine. Meesters has not had direct contact with them yet. ‘Telephone and e-mail traffic are still impossible.’
Meesters informs us that two of the four students were just about to return. Their two successors had just arrived. Meesters was on Sint Maarten himself earlier this week, but had left before Irma arrived. ‘I was there for consultation concerning a European project. Due to the hurricane, however, none of the other participants showed up’, tells Meesters. The researcher had left back to the Netherlands before the hurricane hit the island.
On the one hand, he somewhat regrets having left. ‘I have experienced several hurricanes in the past, but never one of this magnitude. On the other hand: before you know it, you are stuck for several weeks with nowhere to go. At the time my flight was rebooked, it wasn’t yet a given that Irma would pass right over the island.’