Hurricane Irma traps Canadian med student on St. Maarten
Published Saturday, September 9, 2017 4:54PM PDT
Several Canadians settling into university in the Caribbean have been trapped by Hurricane Irma as the storm weaves a deadly path through the region, and the father of one trapped student says the Canadian government needs to do more to help.
Alwyn Chan stayed at home in Coquitlam while his wife, Cecilia, flew to St. Maarten where their daughter Mariel is supposed to go to medical school at the American University of the Caribbean.
"It's very unsettling feeling about their safety," he told CTV news. "It's just… I couldn't sleep. What I'm asking is to send somebody to bring them home."
He says they knew September was hurricane season for the Caribbean, but had no idea a storm of such magnitude was brewing.
Alwyn lost contact with his wife and daughter when Irma ravaged St. Maarten and spent hours frantically trying to get ahold of them.
When he finally got in touch, he learned his family was scared but safe.
"At the strongest point when Irma was hitting us, I believe it was around 8 o'clock in the morning, Mariel and I just held hands and we just prayed to the rosary," Cecilia Chan told CTV News.
Mariel was amazed at how the hurricane flattened the island.
"Looking outside the windows all I saw was white clouds. Usually you're able to see greenery. I only saw shadows of trees flailing around," she said.
The mother and daughter are hunkered down on campus, and say that it's not safe outside the university.
"I believe we're the only ones who have power," Cecilia said. "The rest of the town has no power, has no water."
Alwyn is worried about looting and violence.
"It's not safe," he said.
He wants the Canadian government to use military aircraft to bring stranded Canadians home.
According to the AUC's website, the U.S. Military is moving to evacuate people from the island. It says more than 100 students and faculty at the med school have been flown out.
Alwyn says he's heard about these evacuations, but isn't sure if Mariel and Cecilia would be eligible.
According Global Affairs Canada, more than 9,000 Canadians are in Hurricane Irma's path and 200 people have already contacted the government agency asking for help.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Breanna Karstens-Smith.