French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to cut through red tape to quickly rebuild the islands of the French Caribbean during a visit on Tuesday meant to dispel anger at his government` s response to Hurricane Irma, which killed at least 43 people in the region.
Macron was due to travel on Tuesday to St. Martin, an island France shares with the Netherlands that suffered some of the worst devastation from Irma. Most of the 10 people killed by Irma lived on French territories there.
European countries and the United States have sent troops to deliver aid and provide security after the storm toppled homes and hospitals, but locals and tourists short of food or shelter say help was slow to arrive.
Macron denied authorities were too slow to react.
“St. Martin will be reborn, I promise,” Macron told reporters in Pointe-a-Pitre, on the French island of Guadeloupe. “I will shake up all the rules and procedures so the job is done as quickly as possible. It will be done quickly, it will be done well, and it will be done better,” he said.
Macron said 50 million euros will be made available as soon as possible, and 2,000 security forces have been deployed, including the army, roughly double the original contingent.
The French government has said it would take at least three months for water distribution to normalize. The electricity supply has also been badly hit, authorities said.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also travelled on Tuesday to the Caribbean to visit British territories devastated by Irma. Among the hardest hit islands were the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, plus Antigua and Bermuda.