SURREY — One local who was stranded in the Caribbean by Hurricane Irma is back home – no thanks to the federal government – and, at press time, another was on his way – again, no thanks to the federal government.
Both Balraj Mann, stranded in Cuba, and Manpreet Takhi, stranded in St. Maarten, had to rely on sources other than the Canadian government.
By Wednesday, the federal government had brought 992 stranded Canadians back to Canada on commercial flights, but no figure was available for Surrey residents.
Mann landed in Toronto Wednesday afternoon, looking at a four-hour layover to take him to Vancouver, after buying a ticket on an Air Canada flight from Cuba, where he had been vacationing when the hurricane hit.
“It’ll be great to be back here, right,” he told the Now-Leader from Toronto. “It was quite an experience, I’m glad we’re out of there.”
Did he get out with help from the Liberal government?
“We did it ourselves,” Mann sighed. “Air Canada finally showed up with a plane.
“They didn’t do much,” he said of the federal government. “I’m not too happy, I’m pretty disgruntled.”
Meanwhile, Manpreet Takhi, who lives in Panorama Ridge, could not be reached Wednesday as he was still sleeping off the ordeal after arriving in Vancouver late Tuesday night. He had been stranded in St. Maarten.
Manpreet had just finished his first day in medical school, at American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC), when Hurricane Irma hit “and destroyed the whole country,” said his brother, Aman Takhi.
“In the news it was said WestJet sent a rescue jet there, but believe it or not, the university themselves hired a private charter to evacuate their students,” Aman said. “That private charter actually landed before the WestJet flight, my brother got on to that charter flight and it flew them out. I mean, that was the best story we heard all week. We were so glad.”
The university flew Manpreet to Chicago, and Aman bought him a ticket to fly him home from there.
“I got him an American Airlines flight. I paid for it, that was no problem.”
He said the university might pick up the tab for the Chicago-Vancouver flight too.
“The school went above and beyond,” he said. “I don’t want to talk-down the Canadian government any more; whatever is done is done, right.”
John Aldag, Liberal MP for Cloverdale-Langley City, told the Now-Leader on Monday that helping the stranded was a “huge priority” for the Trudeau government.
“There have been efforts reaching out,” he said. It takes time and we’re working as quickly as we can.”