Help for family members stranded by Hurricane Irma

Helping Families Stranded In The Caribbean

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Congressman Brian Higgins' office wants to help reconnect families separated by Hurricane Irma. 

"First of all, stay calm. The first hurricane has passed, so destruction has been done," said Higgins on Friday.

Hurricane Irma left St. Martin battered. Almost every building is destroyed, and there is no electricity or drinking water.

Congressman Higgins' office has heard from 12 to 15 people in Western New York who are concerned about friends and family members who are in St. Martin.

"Are these people that haven't been heard from or are they people who are stranded or a mix of both?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.

"It's a mix of both, and the concern primarily is aid or safety, access to water and food. And there's some looting going on right now. We want to ensure that they're not subject to any kind of criminal activity that may be going on there," said Higgins.

Higgins says the State Department is in direct contact with authorities in St. Martin. He also told us that other Congressional offices are also hearing from families waiting to be reunited, while adding that the U.S. is prepared to provide both personnel and supplies to help everyone.

"I think that this will have a good outcome relative to the safety of the Western New Yorkers who are stranded there, but they're not out yet, and everybody hasn't been heard from, and we want to ensure that communication is restored fully so that those family members who are anxiously awaiting word from their loved ones can hear from them and be assured that they are safe," says Higgins.

"The most important point is that residents stranded (or family of residents stranded) should register personal information and the whereabouts of Americans stranded in Saint Maarten with the State Department.  See section highlighted in blue.  The information below, from the State Department, also includes details about Shelters available to Americans," says Higgins' spokesperson Theresa Kennedy.

Go to: www.travel.state.gov
Click on Emergency Alert
Click on Hurricanes Irma and Jose
Click on Task force Alert
Alert us: fill out form for your loved ones
At the bottom you can fill out a section to describe the specifics
Link so you can see what information you have to fill out: https://tfa.state.gov/entry3.aspx?p_crisis_uid=OCS2017248363346&p_user_type=OTHER&p_susp_duplicate=Y
At the bottom you can fill out a section to describe the specifics
Enter any additional information that may be useful to the Department of State in providing assistance during this event:
If you are in the affected area and need immediate emergency services, please contact local authorities.
Local numbers for police and emergency services:
• The Bahamas: 919 or 911
• St. Maarten (Dutch side): 911
• St. Martin and St. Barthélemy: The French Ministry of Interior has set up a public line emergency line: Tel: 01 82 71 03 37.
• St. Eustatius: 911 (police) and 910 or 912 (medical)
• Saba: 911 (police) and 912 (medical)
• Cuba: 106
• Haiti: +509-3838-11 or +509-3733-3640
• The Dominican Republic: 911


For U.S. Citizens in Dutch St. Maarten: The Department of State is exploring every possible option to assist U.S. citizens in Dutch St. Maarten. At this time, the airport and seaports are closed. Communication infrastructure has been heavily damaged. There is no U.S. consular presence on the island. U.S. citizens should follow the instructions provided by local authorities and call 911 locally if they require immediate assistance. Shelters are available at the following locations:
• New Testament Baptist Church in Philipsburg;
• Sister Marie-Laurence Primary School in Middle Region;
• Belvedere Community Center in Belvedere;
• Dutch Quarter Community Center in Dutch Quarter;
• Rupert I Maynard Youth Community Center St. Peters;
• NIPA National Institute for Professional Advancement Cay Hill;
• Christian Fellowship Church Across from Pineapple Pete’s Cole Bay.
For U.S. Citizens in French St. Martin: There is no U.S. consular presence on the island. U.S. citizens should follow the instructions provided by local authorities. The French Ministry of Interior has set up a public line emergency line (Tel: 01 82 71 03 37) and provided a list of shelters in St. Martin and in St. Barthelemy.
You can inform the Department of State about U.S. citizens affected by the hurricane who require emergency assistance through the following ways:
• Visit Task Force Alert and select “2017 Hurricane Irma”
o If you are entering information about a U.S. citizen in Dutch St. Maarten, Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, or St. Eustatius use “Netherlands” as the Last Known Country
o If you are entering information about a U.S. citizen in French St. Martin, Montserrat, St. Barthélemy, or St. Kitts and Nevis, use “Barbados” as the Last Known Country.
o If you are entering information about a U.S. citizen in Turks and Caicos, use “The Bahamas” as the Last Known Country.
o If you have difficulty using Task Force Alert, please email IrmaEmergencyUSC@state.gov and provide as much information as possible about your loved one
• Email IrmaEmergencyUSC@state.gov and provide as much information as possible (at a minimum, please provide their full name, gender, and last known location within country, if known)
• Call us at 1-888-407-4747 (from the U.S. & Canada), +1-202-501-4444 (from Overseas)
If you are concerned about non-U.S. citizens in Saba, St Eustatius, and St Maarten, please see the Netherlands Red Cross Safe and Well website.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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