Hundreds of Canadians home after living through hurricanes
Published Tuesday, September 12, 2017 12:17PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 12, 2017 8:01PM EDT
The federal government says hundreds of Canadians who asked for help getting out of the Caribbean have received it.
Hurricane Irma caused massive devastation across many islands and throughout Florida, tossing boats like toys, ripping apart homes, and closing airports.
With Hurricane José hitting some of the same islands a few days later, International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said 691 Canadians have been rescued from Turks and Caicos and from St. Maarten.
Roughly 300 Canadians remain stranded at the moment.
One tourist who returned to Toronto Monday blamed the government and airline officials for not rescuing vacationers from a hurricane-prone location.
"We were relatively safe but the fact of the matter that we were put in harm's way is appalling. We made numbers of calls to Air Canada, to the foreign affairs department or Global Affairs... No response, we can't do anything is what the response was before the hurricane," said the man.
Several people said living through Hurricane Irma and its aftermath was the scariest thing they've ever experienced.
One woman said she felt abandoned.
"It was just really hard to just deal with that, and the only contact was with our daughter and when our cellphones would get low you just thought, well maybe I'm not going to talk to them ever again," she told CTV.
Many people said they were upset to see the American military flying into countries to remove U.S. citizens while the Canadian military did not act.
Transport Minster Marc Garneau said Tuesday he understood people's frustration with being stuck, but points out that many local governments barred commercial flights to and from their countries.
“We will be talking amongst ourselves and we will be keen to hear from the people affected about their views of what could be done better if, god forbid, there is a next time,” he said.
He added that a Canadian military plane will fly to the Caribbean this week to bring emergency supplies, and it will be used to remove Canadians still in need of assistance.
Air Canada is resuming normal flight operations to many affected areas, including Florida, as of Wednesday.