With Hurricane Jose fast approaching, the Dutch military is evacuating the most vulnerable people from the Caribbean country of Sint Maarten, where 14 members of a Maine wedding party have been stranded since the island was walloped by Hurricane Irma.
“They’re going to take off the elderly first, the sick and children,” said Bangor resident Suzanne LeVasseur, whose daughter, Brittany LeVasseur, is stuck on the devastated island. “The marines are there. And they hope to have the worse off by early Saturday.”
But just 69 of some 300 stranded tourists are scheduled to be removed. Most of the 300 were guests at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino & Spa.
Hurricane Jose, which was upgraded Friday to a Category 4, is expected to hit the island on Saturday evening.
Sint Maarten, an independent nation that is part of the Netherlands, was hit by Irma on Tuesday with winds in excess of 185 miles per hour. Irma is expected to make landfall in south Florida on Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Brothers Troy and Kevin Varnum, of Hermon and Bangor, were staying at a different hotel but joined their friends at the Sonesta after the storm passed.
“They are all safe and together at the resort,” said Crista Jakacky of Glenburn, who is Troy Varnum’s ex-wife. “Relief planes are able to fly into the island now for provisions and emergencies (dialysis patients, etc.), but as far as I know, no commercial flights yet.”
LeVasseur said her daughter, who works at the High Tide restaurant in Brewer, called Friday morning with an update.
“Hopefully, we’ll find out soon if she’ll get off the island before Saturday,” the elder LeVasseur said. “That is if she can get through. She has to dial over and over just to get [connected].”