September 6, 2017 4:43 pm
Updated: September 7, 2017 10:04 am

Hurricane Irma: London-area family waiting for evacuation flight out of Punta Cana as storm draws closer

Mauricio Bravo waits for an evacuation flight from Punta Cana with his wife Gina, their kids, Paula and David, and the other Canadian family who let them know about added flights.

Submitted photo

While a family of four from the London area packed their bags inside their hotel room in Punta Cana Wednesday, staff outside were cutting branches off the trees to mitigate potential damage by Hurricane Irma.

“We kind of want to get out,” Mauricio Bravo told AM980 in the early afternoon, with a nervous laugh.

READ MORE: Tracking Irma’s path, from hurricane to tropical storm

Bravo, his wife Gina, and their teenagers Paula and David, arrived in the Dominican Republic on Saturday for a family vacation. But for the past three days, Bravo described difficulty getting a clear answer from the travel company, Air Canada Vacations, on what to do about the approaching category five storm.

Staff outside the hotel where the Bravo family was staying, were cutting branches from nearby trees in preparation for the storm.

Submitted photo

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“We were all at the lobby this morning, trying to contact someone because we don’t get any clear information from anyone.

“We’re a bit scared. We have our kids here with us.”

Although the sun was shining in the Caribbean city earlier on Wednesday, Bravo described strengthening winds, and how their hotel planned to shut down its restaurants and pools by 3 p.m. in the afternoon.

At the time, Bravo didn’t have much hope for a travel company to pull off an evacuation.

“We’re going to start figuring out how to bring food into the room, and water,” he said.

READ MORE: Death toll reaches 4 as Hurricane Irma slams Caribbean

Since then, Bravo heard through another family at the hotel that Air Canada Vacations would be organizing their evacuation.

People trying to flee the storm face long lines for evacuation flights in the Punta Cana Internation Airport.

Submitted photo

“They told us we are heading to the airport but we haven’t been told where we are going exactly [from] there,” he said in an update via text message.

Since arriving by bus at the Punta Cana International Airport, Bravo has heard they might be flown first to Montreal. His family will be on the last of three flights scheduled to leave Punta Cana at 7:45 Wednesday night.

According to Air Canada Vacations website, the company has scheduled extra flights out of a number of airports in the Dominican Republic and Florida. Meanwhile, West Jet added four flights from the Dominican, and Air Transat arranged an extra ten.

Although Bravo wished Air Canada Vacations had had a more organized approach, he’s thankful for the family who alerted his family about the evacuation flights.

“The beautiful thing is how Canadians take care of each other wherever we are.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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