201 Canadians waiting to be rescued after Hurricane Maria, over 6,000 already at home
There are 201 Canadians looking for help after Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc through certain Caribbean islands.
There have been over 6000 Canadians repatriated over the past four days, International Development minister Marie Claude Bibeau said Thursday.
The Canadian government is in contact with all of them and said there are a couple dozen who have particular needs. 188 Canadians are on the island of Dominica.
Nine people died while the storm blew through the Caribbean islands. Hurricane Maria touched down on Dominica on Monday night as a Category 5 storm. With catastrophic winds of nearly 260 km/h, it ripped roofs off homes on the island of about 73,000 people.
“Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit wrote in an emotional Facebook statement on Tuesday.
The Canadians are in safe locations, Bibeau told reporters Thursday afternoon, and the special needs relate to medication or mobility issues; none are in peril. The majority of them are in the Dominica.
WATCH: Ongoing coverage of Hurricane Maria
It is difficult to evacuate them at the moment, because infrastructure on the island nation, including both airports, is severely damaged.
There are currently 146 Canadian students at the Ross University School of Medicine.
The university is planning on evacuating the students by boat to St. Lucia. The government says they have officials waiting on the island to greet the Canadians and help them get home quickly. The first boats are scheduled to depart today, and the evacuation will take a few days, weather permitting.
Global Affairs Canada has a volunteer in Dominica who is coordinating efforts on the ground.
“Communications has been very difficult but our Warden has instructions to seek other Canadian citizens once the roads are clear and it is safe to do so,” a spokesperson for Global Affairs told Global News in an email.
While speaking to reporters after his speech to the UN General Assembly, Trudeau said he had spoken to representatives from Dominica and said: “Canada would continue to be a great friend to the Caribbean nations.”
WATCH: Trudeau outlines aid package for countries struck by Hurricane Maria
The Canadian disaster assessment team is arriving in Dominica Thursday – and will offer help to the stranded Canadians if they can.
More recently, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico as it passed through the U.S. territory as the strongest storm to hit in more than 80 years.
It knocked out power to the entire island.
The government hasn’t received any requests from any Canadians in Puerto Rico.
Maria is currently on a track headed out to sea, but it’s the second major storm to ravage the Caribbean nations.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which at its worst had winds of 295 km/h, the government was widely criticized for its slow response to Canadians in distress.
Families who spoke with Global News at the time said other countries including the U.K. and the Netherlands, deployed aircraft and resources to the region more quickly than Ottawa. The U.S. has already made use of military planes to get 1,200 American nationals out of the Caribbean region since Irma made landfall.
WATCH: Did the government do enough to help Canadians stranded by Irma?
*with a file from Adam Frisk
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