691 Canadians home from Caribbean: minister

Stranded travellers and opposition critics had lambasted evacuation efforts

Pedestrians walk by a flooded car on a street as Tropical Storm Irma hits Charleston, S.C., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says all Canadians who wanted help have had the chance to get out of the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean.

She told reporters ahead of a federal cabinet meeting today in St. John’s, N.L., that 691 Canadians have now returned from widespread devastation in Turks and Caicos and St. Maarten.

READ: WestJet to rescue Canadians stranded by hurricane Irma St. Maarten

Bibeau said officials are now on the ground there assessing how Canada might help with humanitarian aid and rebuilding.

Stranded travellers and opposition critics had lambasted an evacuation effort that many said was slower and less organized than American operations.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters he understands the frustration over delays and communication problems but it was a complex situation.

Garneau said the government mobilized right away but there were issues getting commercial flights cleared for take-off in those countries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet are in St. John’s for two days of meetings expected to include North American Free Trade Agreement talks and reaction to hurricanes Irma and Jose.

The Canadian Press

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