Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Joyous reunion! - Jamaicans celebrate as loved ones return from hurricane-ravaged St Maarten

Published:Sunday | September 17, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Sandra Taylor (right) greets her son Josiah as he arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport from St Maarten yesterday.
It was a joyous occasion for Kemar Peart (left) and his daughter, Sherine, when they saw each other at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday after she arrived from St Maarten.
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The arrival area at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston was transformed into a sea of jubilation yesterday as Jamaicans who were stranded in the Hurricane Irma-ravaged St Maarten finally returned home.

More than 70 per cent of the houses in St Maarten were damaged by the flood rains and strong winds associated with Irma, and with the communications infrastructure also damaged, there were fears about the fate of some Jamaicans there.

But those fears were put to rest yesterday as a Caribbean Airlines flight carrying the Jamaicans landed.

Sandra Taylor was among those who rejoiced and cried uncontrollably at the airport as she laid eyes on her son.

Taylor told The Sunday Gleaner that her joy was not only because her son survived the hurricane but also because illness had prevented her from seeing him for three years.

"I was sick and doctors diagnosed me with a disease that I can't even remember what it is now, but mi gain close to 600 pounds, so I came back to Jamaica, and from that time I have not seen my son," said Taylor with tears running down her face.

"I had so many sleepless nights. I can't cook because every time I try to cook, I don't know if my child is eating," added Taylor, as the tears flowed.

"So you can imagine the pain all these years. Even if me did get a million dollars, it couldn't give me this feeling. I have my child and that is all that matters," said Taylor.

With more tears, shouts of joy and praises to the Almighty, Taylor added: "During the storm, I think about everything, but I wasn't thinking about death because I know that God was going to hide him in the eye of the storm. From the storm happen, last night was the first time I got any update saying that he might be on the flight this morning. I was assured that God would have kept him, and I thank Him so much."

Kemar Peart was similarly overjoyed as his four-year-old child ran into his arms when she arrived yesterday.

Peart told our news team that although he lost everything, his only concern was the safety of his child.

"It was a great feeling because it is days since I haven't heard from my daughter because I couldn't communicate any at all. Two days ago I came out of the hospital because my pressure went up, so when I got a phone call that she coming home, it was a wonderful feeling," said Peart.

"When I saw the picture of the house (in St Maarten) I cried. I lost everything but those things can be replaced because it's all vanity. I have her and that's all that matters."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com