Brit owner of bar hit by Irma is determined to rebuild

Published:  27 Nov at 6 PM
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A British expat and his family living and working on St Martin when Hurricane Irma struck are determined to rebuild their popular Honky-Tonk Bar.

Born in the Lancashire town of Bury, Simon Healey swapped the rainy northern town for the sunny Caribbean island when he was just 23 years old. Some 14 years later, he’d married, had children and was the proprietor of one of the island’s most popular bars. His expat dream was shattered when Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island, flattening thousands of homes, destroying the island’s beauty and smashing the entire front of his bar.

Simon told reporters the and his family had hidden in their apartment until the hurricane moved on, scared stiff by the terrifying noise of the 185 mph winds and the crashes as buildings were smashed by falling trees and the force of the storm. When they emerged, all they could see was devastation.

A reporter from a local Lancashire newspaper contacted Simon’s father Stephen, with whom Simon had worked as a mechanic before he emigrated. According to Stephen, the first week after the hurricane struck was pure hell, as he and Simon’s mother didn’t even know if their son, his wife Blakely and their three children were still alive, as the island’s phone and internet services were both down.

He told reporters his son had scraped together his savings as he is determined to rebuild and get the bar going again by the beginning of December. Sadly, there doesn’t seem much point, as the hurricane smashed St Martin’s thriving tourist industry. The entire island’s economy was based on regular visits from cruise ships, none of which are now running as no tourists want to go there to view the wreckage of the formerly beautiful, tropical island.

Across St Martin there are thousands more who relied on tourism for their livelihoods and money is fast running out. No-one, Simon included, is earning anything, and Christmas is likely to be a subdued celebration.
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