Posted: 6:21 am ET
The U.S. Embassy in Haiti was initially placed on authorized voluntary departure for non-emergency staff and family members due to Hurricane Irma on Tuesday, September 5. By the time the Travel Warning went up, the language changed to authorized departure for U.S. government employees and their family members (see U.S. Embassy Haiti Now on ‘Authorized Departure’ For Employees/Family Members #HurricaneIrma (Updated) September 5, 2017). We actually asked why Haiti went on AD but not Haiti at the same time. On Wednesday, September 6 both the Dominican Republic and Cuba were on “authorized departure” status (see Embassy Dominican Republic Now on ‘Authorized Departure’ For Employees/Family Members #Irma. U.S. Embassy Cuba Now on ‘Authorized Departure’ For Employees/Family Members #Irma. Later on September 6, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau went on “ordered departure” (see U.S. Embassy Bahamas Now on ‘Ordered Departure’ For “Non-Essential” Staff/Family Members #Irma). We were aware of two chartered flights announced – one from Santo Domingo which departed on 9/6, and one from Nassau which departed on 9/7.
As far as we are aware, neither Secretary Tilleron nor his inner circle has done evacuations previously. The office that typically would oversee evacuations, funding, logistics, etc. is the under secretary for management, a position that has remained vacant (the announced nominee will have his confirmation hearing tomorrow, 9/12).
On September 8, CBS News reported on criticisms over the evacuation efforts of the State Department, the first evacuation involving private Americans. As of Saturday evening, 1,200 Americans had reportedly been rescued from St. Maarten but media reports say nearly 5,000 Americans still remain at St. Maarten after Irma.
Four diplomatic posts are currently being evacuated, although progress to help Americans on the ground has been slow. Veterans of the department say that a task force could have helped manage the disaster. A task force was only set up Friday morning, days after Irma hit portions of the Caribbean. While the State Department says that is consistent with previous practice, criticism has still come to the fore.
As of Saturday afternoon, the State Department had coordinated with the Department of Defense to assist over 500 American citizens with air evacuations from St. Martin, beginning with those needing urgent medical care. As of Saturday evening, 1,200 Americans had been rescued from St. Martin/St. Maarten, according to the U.S. State Department.
The latest from U.S. Consulate General Curacao (Sitrep #6) as follows (note that there is no consular post in St. Maarten, which is under the consular district of Curacao, but located in a separate island, see map here):
The Department of State is working with the Department of Defense to continue evacuation flights on September 11. U.S. citizens desiring to leave should proceed to the airport to arrive by noon on Monday carrying their U.S. passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship and identity. Passengers may be allowed carry on one small bag. Medications and any other essential items should be carried on your person. Note, passengers arriving at St Maarten Airport should expect long wait times. There is no running water at the airport and very limited shelter.
The Department of State has received information that Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship near the port of Sint Maarten has departed. Contact the cruise line directly with any questions at email@example.com.
U.S. citizens in need of evacuation on Sint Maarten should shelter in place until Monday, listen to 101.1 FM radio for updates.
U.S. citizens in Dutch St. Maarten, Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, or St. Eustatius are asked to visit Task Force Alert: https://tfa.state.gov/ and select “2017 Hurricane Irma.”
U.S. Citizens in French St. Martin are asked to contact U.S. Embassy Bridgetown in Barbados: https://bb.usembassy.gov/news-events/ or direct link here: https://bb.usembassy.gov/emergency-message-u-s-citizens-british-virgin-islands-assistance-aftermath-hurricane-irma/.
AND NOW THIS —