Canadian grandmother relieved that family in Caribbean is alive - but fears persist
Published Friday, September 15, 2017 10:12PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 15, 2017 10:30PM EDT
An Ontario grandmother was relieved to learn that her family, including two young grandchildren, is alive on the island of St. Maarten after it was pummelled by Hurricane Irma last week.
But with food and drinking water scarce, Nina Deshane said she still doesn’t know whether her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, ages five and two, even have access to the basic necessities of life.
“I’m very, very relieved to know that they’re alive,” Deshane told CTV News from her home in Cambridge, Ont.
Most of the island is still without power more than a week after Irma struck, and nearly 200 people remain missing.
Deshane said it wasn’t until a text message on Friday from her son, Kieron Gill, that she learned they were alive. She still has no sense of whether they are safe.
“Not having water and not having sewage, those things, no electricity -- that’s very scary for young kids,” she said.
Throughout the Caribbean, search-and-rescue crews continue to sift through rubble for survivors. So far, at least 38 people have been confirmed killed in the region.
The small island of Barbuda suffered some of the worst of Irma, with 95 per cent of buildings destroyed. The entire island has been evacuated.
Across the Caribbean, survivors of the storm have reported incidents of looting, robberies and concerns about safety.
In Puerto Rico, the country’s largest convention centre has been converted into a makeshift shelter for hundreds of hurricane victims.
In St. Maarten, at least 2,000 have been transported off the island due to medical reasons, with another 600 to 1,000 people leaving each day, according to government officials.
In the midst of the devastation, the tourism industry has stepped up to help. Canadian airline Sunwing has volunteered to use its aircraft and employees to help Global Medic transport 10 tons of food and building supplies to Barbuda and Antigua.
Air Canada is also working with Global Medic to bring emergency kits, including water purification tools and hygiene supplies, to families in need.
Cruise ships have also helped transport survivors on small islands battered by the storm to more populous areas to seek medical treatment and aid.
It’s a helpful gesture said Ann-Marie Layne, Consul General of Antigua and Barbuda.
"This has been a trying time for us as a country but certainly the support we have received we couldn't ask for better," she said.
The U.S. and European governments have sent in military aid, including troops and aircraft to help relocate victims from dangerous areas.
So far, only one Canadian military aircraft has been dispatched to help with evacuees.
Rahul Singh from Global Medic says private airlines deserve credit for helping out with much-needed aid.
"Really the airlines that have been doing this are doing this on their own. They’re deploying their people, their assets, their teams,” Singh said.
With a report from CTV’s Peter Akman and the Associated Press