Officials say about 265 Canadians have reached out to the Canadian government for help as Hurricane Irma turns its force on Florida after cutting a path of destruction through the Caribbean.
“We have people who are stuck in a country or an island who just can’t get out,” said one Global Affairs Canada official. “There are no flights getting in or out. They’re frustrated. They’re trying to see if there are other ways of getting out
During a briefing Saturday for reporters, officials said they were not aware of any deaths among Canadians.
“What we’re advising is, first and foremost, follow the advice and instructions from local authorities,” the official said. “Stay put until it’s safe to move out and also stay in contact if you can.”
2 hurricanes making evacuations difficult
Complicating matters is the presence of Hurricane Jose in the area.
“Just as soon as you think you can get people out and planes are ready to land, we can’t because the next hurricane of barrelling down,” said an official.
Global Affairs Canada is aware of more than 9,000 Canadians that are in the current path of the storms. That number doesn’t include Canadians who haven’t voluntarily registered with the ministry.
The officials said they are considering all options when it comes to getting Canadians out of the affected area.
In situations like this, the government first looks at what commercial flight options are available and coordinates with its international partners, including the U.S., U.K., Australia, France and the Netherlands, about planes they have available in the area.
During the 2004 hurricane season, the government chartered flights to evacuate Canadians, but the official said that hasn’t been necessary so far during Hurricane Irma.
This is the emergency watch response cente room where GAC is monitoring the hurricanes pic.twitter.com/CXR9d23AqW
“We do believe people will be getting out in fairly short order,” said one of the government sources.
Military assistance is also a possibility, but that would require more discussion with the Department of National Defence.
Since about Sept. 4 the department’s emergency watch and response centre has fielded 1,500 calls and emails regarding the hurricanes.
Nearly seven million people across Florida were under evacuation orders and more than 50,000 people were seeking shelter Saturday in schools, community centres and churches.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ – Jeremiah 29:11