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Thank you all for your kind messages. It was a whole team of people that coordinated to take action fast. The real heroes in all of this are the people who worked tirelessly non-stop to get things to happen both on the island and off. What our coordination team did, including Simpson Bay Resort & Marina, St. Maarten, our corporate offices in Mexico of Royal Resorts Caribbean, friends in Curacao and my close contacts back home in Hemet, CA was to simply initiate the action.
The true heroes?…. The people on the ground that were risking their lives to save others. Our resort managers, Marcel Javois & Jozef O'Niel countless times, put themselves in harm's way to save people. In the throws of the storm, Marcel went to rescue people with baby, from a villa that was torn apart. All of the team leaders were on a group chat and visually watching the units that they were in charge of and notified the group when they saw people in trouble. We all watched the chat as we saw Marcel type that he was going out into the storm to get them. Our hearts raced as we waited for him to return. When he did, we were able to breathe again. And then he went out and did it again.
During the eye of the storm, Jozef was rescuing people and bringing them to safety. While bunkered down in my villa bathroom, I heard him starting to break down my door and yell my name to get me out, because he feared the buildings wouldn’t be able to withstand the second half of the storm. He got to me. These are two of the BRAVEST men I have ever met.
The logistics back home included contacting local assemblymen, congressmen, and senators. The home team contacted Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Jeff Stone's staff first. Also, Congressman Paul Cook and Congressman Ken Calvert, which led us to Senator Marco Rubio's office. Our eternal gratitude goes out to his office and staff (MARIA!) as they never let go of our hands through the entire ordeal.
They informed the U.S. Department of State and The White House, who jumped into action. The press picked it up, and things moved. As President Donald J. Trump's spokesman relayed at The White House press conference the president's commitment to evacuate our stranded Americans in St. Maarten before the monster Hurricane Jose hit. We were able to evacuate 1200 Americans to Puerto Rico on Saturday and immediately brought the rest to safety the next day.
Simpson Bay Resort & Marina, St. Maarten became a hub for stranded tourists, as we were the only ones that had any reliable information or communication, and one of the only standing resorts. I am so grateful to work with such an amazing company.
We also thank the Dutch Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Tourism of St. Maarten, and the Air Traffic Control Tower of Curacao (Ralph) for getting coordinated. Special thanks to the U.S. Military and Puerto Rico Air National Guard, and the people of Puerto Rico who opened up their arms to us and gave the evacuees food, clothing, and hugs, and to the countless other people that came together to execute the evacuation plan. A Red Cross employee, Ramonita Santiago, even gave me her shoes when we arrived at the airport.
There are so many people to thank in all of this, and I can’t possibly list them all. So many people from my little hometown of Hemet, CA that never stopped the phone calls until those planes picked us up. Sara, Tami, Lori, David, Rich, Cindy, Warren, Denver ... helping with all the communication and support. Our SXM team.... Rodrigo, Marcel, Jozef, Daniel, Ana, Clifton, Miguel, Veronica, Diego, Delia, Aniek, PG, Odene, Ralph, Carmen & Carmen, Alan, Ramses, Angele, Rich, Ricardo, Julie, Richard, Erin, Rose..... and the list goes on.
As you might have seen in videos, the storm devastated the island and many of them have lost everything, including their homes. Simpson Bay Resort stands beside their heroic employees at this time, helping them to reorganize. For those of you that wish to help these efforts of rebuilding for the employees, we've established a Simpson Bay Resort & Marina Hurricane Relief Fund that you may find here: simpsonbayresort.com