Published On: Fri, May 18th, 2018

Irma-book focuses on resilience

Barbara van der Woude - 20180517 HH

PHILIPSBURG – On September 6, exactly one year after Hurricane Irma hit St. Maarten, Barbara van der Woude will publish a book about the disaster – available at Kindle but also in print as a pocket book. The title is still a work in progress, but the content is clear: a bundle of interviews with people who lived through the monster storm.

Among those interviewed are Ton van Kooten, Richard Gibson, Norman Wathey, Nico Boersma, Paul Boetekees, Dorette Pfennings (sxmpaws.com), Suzy Maidwell and Conan Westemeyer.

Van der Woude, whose boyfriend Erik van Engelen previously worked at the Board financial supervision (Cft) in St. Maarten and who has now taken a job with accounting and advisory firm Baker Tilly, was not on the island during Irma. “I came here in February and I thought that the whole island would be destroyed. But everyone I spoke with was very resilient. They were almost laconic. I thought: I have to write about this,” says Van der Woude, who will start in September as a teacher at Milton Peters College.

Van der Woude visited St. Maarten once in the past because Van Engelen worked here. “If I get the chance to come and live here, I will do it,” was the experience she took away from that visit. “Then Irma came.”

While the hurricane certainly created some doubts about coming to St. Maarten, curiosity won her over. “I had my doubts but on the other hand there is a special atmosphere here. It is wonderful to see that enterprising spirit after everything that happened.”

In the interviews for her book, Van der Woude does not focus on disaster and bad news. “I’ve been looking for people who have businesses here. What I wanted to know: what have you done to make everything good again? You see that people become creative, they help each other and they are able to achieve a lot.”

Photo caption: Author Barbara van der Woude. Photo Hilbert Haar.