Two days after Category 5 Hurricane Irma decimated St.
Barts, air charter operator Tradewind Aviation has been flying supplies to the
French island, and that relief mission continues one week after the disaster.
"We started our relief flights last Friday, paused on
Saturday while Hurricane Jose scooted by, resumed on Sunday and have been
flying nonstop since then," said David Zipkin, Tradewind's co-owner and
Tradewind, flying from its Caribbean base in San Juan,
brought food, water and generators on the first flights. When those supplies
began arriving by boat, the focus shifted to chainsaws and tarps.
Tradewind also helped evacuate more than 200 people from the
"We have people on the scene, including myself for the
first few days, assessing what is needed and relaying purchase orders to our
team in San Juan," Zipkin said.
The French government sent supplies by boat but those did
not reach the island until Sept. 11. "They have not offered any support to
us. We are just doing it," he said.
Many of the buildings are still standing, although a large
portion need repairs, primarily to roofs. "It's all doable and the spirit
is strong, so they will get it done," Zipkin said.
Zipkin said one of the most jarring images is the scenery,
or lack of it. "The winds tore all the leaves from the trees," he
Electricity has been restored to the capital of Gustavia and
in sections of St. Jean in the northern part of the island.
French president Emmanuel Macron toured St. Barts on
Wednesday after visiting St. Martin Tuesday. He pledged to rebuild both