Canada Home at last: 1st planeload of Canadians evacuated from Caribbean arrives in Toronto

07:36  12 september  2017
07:36  12 september  2017 Source:   cbc.ca

Hurricane Irma 'Was The Most Terrifying Experience Of My Life,' Quebecer Says

  Hurricane Irma 'Was The Most Terrifying Experience Of My Life,' Quebecer Says A Quebec man living on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin is calling hurricane Irma the most terrifying experience of his life after 300-km/h winds ripped the roof off his house and others in the same complex. The Category 5 storm left disaster in its wake Wednesday when it hit Saint Martin, where Rene H. Lepine has lived permanently for four years running a real-estate development.

The first of two planeloads of Canadians stranded for days in the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricane Irma arrived in Toronto Monday night weary, exhausted and relieved to finally be home .

Home at last : 1 st planeload of Canadians evacuated from Caribbean arrives in Toronto . Rescue flight to Saint Martin brings hope to stranded Canadians . Toronto man, elderly parents in Cuba 24 hours before Hurricane Irma hit are frustrated by Sunwing's response.

Home at last: 1st planeload of Canadians evacuated from Caribbean arrives in Toronto © Marie-Christine Demers/CBC Home at last: 1st planeload of Canadians evacuated from Caribbean arrives in Toronto

They spent days holed up in shelters, schools and homes, slammed by violent winds and heavy rain as a monster storm bore down on around them, and now they're finally starting to come home. 

The first of three planeloads of Canadians stranded for days in the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricane Irma arrived in Toronto Monday night — weary, exhausted and relieved.

Air Canada Flight 1997 from Turks and Caicos touched down at Toronto's Pearson International Airport just after 9 p.m. ET, one of three commercial flights marshalled to rescue about 250 Canadians stranded in the region.

Blue Jays to donate in support of Hurricane relief efforts

  Blue Jays to donate in support of Hurricane relief efforts Blue Jays to donate in support of Hurricane relief efforts in the U.S. & Caribbean, $1 from every ticket to Monday's game will be donated to @RedCrossCanada. pic.twitter.com/1PnOWNEfry— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 9, 2017The states of Florida and Texas, along with various Caribbean nations have been hit hard during this hurricane season, notably by Hurricane Harvey and Irma, which is expected to land in Florida on Sunday.The money raised will be going to the Canadian Red Cross.

The city is home to the University of Toronto and York University, Ryerson and OCAD, plus the Royal Conservatory of Canada and the Canadian Film Centre. There are nearly 600 public schools within the city, and tons of private Catholic schools.

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A second flight, WestJet Flight 4906 from Saint Martin, is also scheduled to land in Toronto Monday night with 95 passengers. And a third flight, from Turks and Caicos, is expected to arrive shortly before midnight. 

'There was nothing left'

Rosaleen Murphy was among those arriving on the Air Canada flight. She had moved to Turks and Caicos on Aug. 18 and started a new job as a teacher last Monday. Three days later, the hurricane hit.

As the storm walloped the island, Murphy said, she hid out in a cupboard underneath the kitchen sink of the home she'd rented in Turtle Cove.

When she emerged, she said, the roof and walls were gone. "There was nothing left, at all," she said.

265 Canadians have asked government for help in wake of Hurricane Irma

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Home . Forecasts & Reports. Last 24 Hours. Weekend. Severe Weather Outlook. Records on this Date in Toronto , ON. Record Low. 2.6°C 1986.

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The arrivals come after family members and colleagues of many of those stuck in the area expressed desperation and complained that they felt abandoned by the federal government, saying its response was lacking compared with other countries that deployed military aircraft to get their citizens out.

WestJet said 70 Canadians and 25 Americans were aboard its rescue flight. Asked if there were any Canadians who wanted to board but were left behind, airline spokesperson Lauren Stewart said she believed everyone who needed evacuation from Saint Martin was able to leave.

Questions about Ottawa's response

Earlier in the day, the airline announced it was taking "the unusual step" of reaching out to stranded travellers in Saint Martin using its social media channels. "We wanted to make sure that anyone needing to leave was able to get out," Stewart said. 

Lack of help from Ottawa riles Canadians stuck in Caribbean

  Lack of help from Ottawa riles Canadians stuck in Caribbean The federal government has “abandoned” Canadian citizens — medical students, teachers and tourists — on the hurricane-ravaged island of St. Maarten, their families say.While Americans leave the island on military and charter airplanes, Canadians are advised to visit a government website with a list of shelters, creating a desperate situation, especially as food supplies run low and reports of looting increase, say relatives interviewed by the Star. Some families said a few Canadians were able to leave on a Sunday flight, but other tourists, students and teachers remained.

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Aamir Saiyed, a Toronto medical student who narrowly escaped the storm before it swept Saint Martin, said 11 Canadian students who rode out the aftermath of the storm holed up at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine were on the WestJet flight. Some 50 others, including students, faculty members and their families, were flown out on a plane chartered by the school, he said.

In the days since the monster storm hurtled through the region, the U.S. used military planes to get 1,200 Americans out of the Caribbean. The Netherlands and the U.K. also brought home their citizens with military planes.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland responded to that criticism Monday, saying the Air Canada flight heading back to Toronto Monday had landed in Turks and Caicos on Sunday, bringing humanitarian aid. But because of "complications," the plane couldn't return until the following day.

Freeland described the situation as "very chaotic, very difficult," saying she was glad people were coming home.

"I think we have to remember that there are people for whom that is home, they have no other home to come back to," she said Monday. 

Freeland was at Pearson Monday night greeting those arriving, who were given a flyer with a similar message:

"I know that we can always do better," read the message directing people to an email address to leave feedback. "If you would like to share your story, please do so."

Canadians in the dark after Equifax hack .
TORONTO - Canadians are asking questions in the aftermath of the Equifax hack because they are more in the dark about whether they have been victims than consumers in the U.S. Consumers in the U.S. can check their status on a website that shows whether they are at risk as well as monitor their files for free because the company waived a charge in the wake of the data breach. But that website doesn't work for Canadians and the Equifax Canada website says it costs $19.95 per month for the same monitoring service.

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