Canada Canadians return home after harrowing encounter with Irma

18:11  12 september  2017
18:11  12 september  2017 Source:   Metro News

Canadian couple stranded on Caribbean island pleads for help, evacuation

  Canadian couple stranded on Caribbean island pleads for help, evacuation At least two Canadians are stranded on the island of St. Maarten in the path of Hurricane Irma, and friends say they haven’t received any direction on how to evacuate.Michael Moriarty and his wife, Meryl, travelled to St. Maarten from Ajax on Sunday for a vacation. When Hurricane Irma struck on Wednesday, the couple said they were “stuck” with “no food (and) no water,” according to an email they sent to friends. “Desperate for (evacuation), need as much help as possible,” the email reads. “Please get all friends to call Canadian consulate they are our only hope of rescue.”Jill Davis received the email Thursday.

Two flight carrying Canadian citizens from Turks and Caicos landed at Pearson Monday night as passengers described frantically trying to get off the island.

Read more: Canadians return home after harrowing encounter with Irma . Feds blame airport authorities, Irma ’s chaos for preventing planes from evacuating Canadians . Hydro One sending crews to Florida to help restore power after Irma .

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Canadians in Florida bracing for Irma

  Canadians in Florida bracing for Irma The house belonging to Audrey Foy, a young woman living in Florida who is originally from Quebec, looked like a bunker Friday. It was hard to find her front door as the facade of her home had been boarded up in anticipation of hurricane Irma, which was scheduled to land on the peninsula this weekend."I'm thinking the worst," said Foy, who lives in Hollywood, Fla. "That our roof will be blown off. That we won't have electricity for weeks or months. And I'm afraid."Many Quebecers living in and around Fort Lauderdale were preparing to be hit by the biggest hurricane of their lives.

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Karen and Neno Vukosa left for a holiday to Turks and Caicos on Sept. 2.

Two days later, they were frantically calling airlines, trying to get out of the island that they then knew was about to be hit by a catastrophic, Category 5 hurricane.

“We tried and tried and tried to no avail,” Karen said.

“There was no way to get off that island,” Neno said.

Now they’re home.

Karen and Neno Vukosa were frantically calling airlines, trying to get out of Turks and Caicos, about to be hit by a catastrophic, Category 5 hurricane.: Canadians return home after harrowing encounter with Irma © Alex Mckeen Canadians return home after harrowing encounter with Irma

Two flights from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, landed Monday evening in Toronto: one Air Canada flight, and one WestJet flight.

The passengers described harrowing scenes of destruction from Hurricane Irma on that island.

“I’ve never heard anything like that before,” Karen said of the winds during the peak of the hurricane’s impact on Turks and Caicos Thursday.

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The couple was in a safe room in a resort. They were not injured, but they were frightened.

“The biggest fear,” Neno said, was not getting out before the oncoming Hurricane Jose struck.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland was at Pearson airport to greet passengers of the Air Canada flight in Terminal 1.

Freeland said tickets weren’t what got people on that plane. The priority was that they were Canadian or with Canadians.

It was important to her, she said, to be at the airport to welcome them home.

She lauded pilot Rex Vijayasingham, who passengers said was instrumental in returning them to Canada.

The plane was supposed to come back yesterday. Freeland said Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, helped assure her that the plane would come back tonight, with Canadian passengers.

That happened, and there were even extra seats on the two flights for 50 Americans to be able to get off the island.

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For those on the flight, getting home to Canada seemed shrouded in uncertainty since last Monday.

Michael Rhude, another of the passengers, described his frustration with Air Canada, which he said never contacted him while he was out of the country.

Rhude and the Vukosas received some updates from Global Affairs Canada, but felt more could have been done to help them out of a dire situation.

“Everyone is coming after the fact,” said Neno, who described Freeland’s trip to the airport as an example.

He felt that the government should have tried to get all Canadians out Monday and Tuesday, before Irma hit.

Instead, they described hearing about this “phantom flight” through the grapevine, and were relieved to get on board.

Now that they’re home, the Vukosa’s concerns are with the local islanders on Turks and Caicos.

“They have a long road ahead of them,” Karen said. Their homes may have been destroyed but still “they helped us where they could,” she said.

Freeland said now that the Canadians are on their ways home, it is time to focus on humanitarian efforts for the islands.

Ontario donating $150k to Irma relief .
Ontario donating $150k to Irma reliefPremier Kathleen Wynne says in a statement that Irma and its consequences are "a worst nightmare come true" for millions of people.

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