I'm paying particular attention to St Maarten in the wake of Hurricane Irma, because Tess - who used to run the kid's art school downstairs underneath my office in the Mills - moved there several years ago and I can see, via Facebook, that her daughter Celine (who is in college in Holland) hasn't been able to contact the rest of her mother, sister, brother and stepfather on the island since the storm passed. Fingers crossed they are all OK and the lack of a message is due to power and telecoms failures.
Dutch military forces have arrived, cleared the runway at the badly damaged airport and secured berths in the harbor for two navy ships. Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters today that the first plane has already landed at the airport in the capital, Philipsburg, and navy vessels have unloaded vital supplies. Further, the Dutch King Willem-Alexander will fly to the Caribbean island of Curacao on Sunday to inspect the coordination of relief efforts for the devastated former colony St. Maarten.
The British Navy flagship HMS Ocean is also on its way to our Caribbean overseas territories and former colonies carrying helicopters, Marines and engineers. It will get there in ten days to a fortnight's time. Pathetic. It's not as if Holland is a lot closer to that part of the world than we are is it?