LaSalle couple coming home from St. Maarten
Published Monday, September 11, 2017 1:19PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 13, 2017 3:13PM EDT
A LaSalle couple, stranded in St. Maarten because of Hurricane Irma, is back in Canada.
Darrell and Debbie Sheppy arrived in Toronto late Monday night after the Trudeau government sent an airplane to the Caribbean to rescue Canadians.
The Sheppy’s were vacationing when news broke about a tropical storm. In a matter of 24 hours, that storm became one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded.
By then, Darrell Sheppy says all of the commercial flights were booked and they had no choice but to wait out the storm.
“I managed to look out the windows during the eye of the storm, because we were right in the middle of that track. And I saw boats floating by, hitting the balconies out front," says Sheppy.
The massive storm directly hit the island -- which is divided between the French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten -- early Wednesday, damaging its airport and leaving thousands of tourists and locals unable to escape. The devastation caused by the hurricane was followed by widespread looting and robberies.
For six days, the Sheppy’s had no running water or power.
What made matters worse in the days that followed, they made numerous trips to the airport to watch hundreds of Americans and Dutch citizens get lifted to safety.
The local residents, and other Canadians, were denied seats on those planes because the Canadian government did not an evacuation plan.
”It was really tremendously upsetting,” says Debbie Sheppy. “I felt abandoned and it was really hard to just deal with that."
Lacey Cranston says her parents were the only people out of 148 guests to be left at the Oyster Bay Beach Resort on the weekend. The other 146 guests were evacuated.
But four cabinet ministers offered no apologies on Tuesday. Instead, they blamed the lack of response on local airports in the Caribbean.
The government successfully evacuated nearly 700 Canadians on Monday. Officials say nearly 300 more are asking for help getting home.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says rescuing Canadians stranded by Irma is a “top priority.”
Another Windsor native is back home from St. Maarten.
Alec Raniwsky, 24, is a student at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. He managed to flee the island last Monday, less than 48 hours after Irma hit.
Raniwsky tells CTV Windsor he flew to Panama and then to Montreal, before he boarded a train back home to Windsor.
Raniwsky was among several students pressuring the Canadian government to help rescue other students who remained on the island.
He says flights were able to bring the remaining 140 students and faculty home on Monday.