Irma destroyed around 95 percent of the French side of Saint Martin, the Dutch part suffered about 70 percent damage.
Many were trying to get home before another storm, Hurricane Jose, hit the island.
American citizens evacuated from St. Martin by US military aircraft are telling desperate stories of survival as Hurricane Irma ravaged the island and left a precarious security situation in its wake. The Dutch king also is heading to the region.
A defense official said that more than 800 American citizens had been evacuated by Saturday afternoon before flight operations were temporarily halted by high winds from Hurricane Jose that was approaching the island. Extra troops had to be sent to stop subsequent looting.
Marlin said many countries and people have offered help to St. Maarten, but authorities are waiting on the weather conditions to see how this can be coordinated.
On Saturday evening, the State Department said it is “strongly advising” USA citizens to shelter in place until powerful Hurricane Jose passes.
Jose was headed toward the northern Leeward Islands, which include Antigua and Barbuda, St. Martin and the USA and British Virgin Islands, with sustained winds of 145 miles per hour – a Category 4 storm.
In the western coastal town of Grand-Case, a 76-year-old man who only gave his first name, Michel, emerged from a grocery store laden with food, explaining that he had nothing else to eat.
“Immediately after the storm, people were walking around with baseball bats”, she said.
Castaner said many islanders were suffering from “emotional shock, an impact that’s extremely hard psychologically”.
Irma hit St. Martin on Wednesday as a Category 5 storm.
“You could put all the people back in Barbuda today. but then you’ll have a medical crisis on your hand”, Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Fernandez said.
On Anguilla, Vanessa Croft Thompson crammed into her home’s laundry room with her husband, her best friend and their children along with their cats and dogs, as Irma’s floodwaters swamped her house. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who lost the presidential election in May, accused the government of having “totally insufficient” emergency and security measures.
“I am aware of the fear, the exhaustion, and the anguish that the current situation is causing families in the Antilles and on the mainland”, Philippe said.
As Jose neared, the last airplane flew in to St. Martin’s battered Grande-Case airport Friday carrying workers to help re-establish the island’s water supply and electricity. Camp beds, sleeping bags and life-saving equipment were also sent.
The police presence on the two islands has been boosted to close to 500 staff following reports of violence and looting after the passage of Irma, the French interior ministry said. The boat’s captain told the channel that he had been ordered to do so by local authorities – but they later denied the claim.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte defended his government’s actions, saying that authorities prioritized evacuations to ensure the safety of patients in St. Maarten’s hospital, including 65 people who needed kidney dialysis, pregnant women and other emergency cases.
“Unfortunately, there were two more victims that we did not know about earlier“, Rutte told reporters in The Hague. The Canadian low-priced airline and tour agency Sunwing evacuated some Canadian tourists from St Maarten to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic on Saturday.
Military cargo planes or aid flights were expected to pick up stranded Dutch tourists later Sunday and take them to Curacao, from where they would be able to catch flights home.