Ottawa

Ottawa couple stranded in Turks and Caicos as Hurricane Irma approaches

An Ottawa couple is going to have to brave Hurricane Irma in a hotel bathroom as it makes landfall in Turks and Caicos.

Hundreds trying to catch flights off islands with no success, Ottawa man says

Police on patrol in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 6, 2017, as Hurricane Irma slammed across islands in the north Caribbean. Irma is expected to make landfall at the Turks and Caicos Islands southeast of the Bahamas Thursday afternoon. (Alvin Baez/Reuters)

An Ottawa couple are among the hundreds of guests at a Turks and Caicos resort who have been instructed to stay in their bathrooms Thursday as Hurricane Irma approaches.

Taras Klymyshyn and his partner Chantale Trottier arrived at Club Med Turkoise Provindenciales Saturday for an all-inclusive week of relaxation, but after seeing images of Hurricane Irma's destruction, the vacation was over.

"The very high winds, very low visibility, lots of water in air, broken palm trees, broken roofs, that actually killed our vacation mode," Klymyshyn said.

"So as of Tuesday at noon, all we are doing is communicating with family and friends, trying any possible scenario to escape, to end our vacation."

Ottawa's Chantale Trottier and Taras Klymyshyn on the beach in Turks and Caicos. They say their resort is prepared for Hurricane Irma to hit Thursday. (Taras Klymyshyn)

No flight home

They tried to book a flight through WestJet but had no success, he said. Other guests told him they went to their airport but returned to the resort disappointed because all the flights were full.

WestJet declined to be interviewed but provided a written statement about their response to Hurricane Irma.

"WestJet has created a plan to evacuate guests from areas that could potentially be affected by Hurricane Irma and we have accommodated as many guests as possible given the number of aircraft and crew we could put into rescue operations. We are not disclosing the numbers," the statement said.

The airline added additional flights to locations in Mexico, Cuba and Florida, but did not list Turks and Caicos as a destination where more flights had been added, the airline said.

Guests to wait in bathroom for all-clear

At the resort, staff have done a good job preparing guests and calming their worries ahead of the storm, Klymyshyn said.

"Our windows in our rooms are covered with thin, one-quarter inch plywood," he said.

People are being moved out of ground-floor rooms and are being asked to share second- and third-floor rooms, with about four to six people per suite.

Club Med staff have boarded up windows with plywood in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irma on the Turks and Caicos Islands. (Taras Klymyshyn)

They've been told to go to their bathrooms at noon as high winds from Irma reach the resort, he said, adding that those winds are expected to blow as fast as 200 km/h.

"We will be asked to sit in the bathroom for as long as it takes. We will not be allowed to leave, open the door or a window until we receive a call. It looks like they are ready for the worst."

'We just surrendered to the circumstances'

A notice posted on the Club Med website said its staff are following strict hurricane preparation procedures and that its resorts are equipped with generators, fuel, food and water reserves in case of an emergency.

The resort is also accommodating guests who have experienced travel delays with free additional days or reduced rates, it said.

Klymyshyn said he's not sure when they'll be able to leave, but that they made a trip to the beach Wednesday ahead of the forecasted landfall.

"Right now, it's beautiful. We just surrendered to the circumstances," he said. "After the grieving and after the fact that they said it is what it is and we're facing Irma here in our rooms, we went to the beach because there's nothing really we can do."

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