Canadian crews deliver much-needed supplies to Antigua and Barbuda


A Canadian plane full of volunteers delivered much-needed supplies this weekend to the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, where efforts are underway to help the country rebuild after Hurricane Irma.

Some 10 days after Hurricane Irma decimated the islands, the Sunwing flight left Toronto Friday night loaded with emergency supplies such as water purification systems and hygiene kits, plus building materials including hammers, nails, wood and cement.

Matt Capobianco, deputy director of aid charity GlobalMedic, told CTV News that Sunwing had “really stepped up to reroute a plane specifically for our team and aid into Antigua.” The charity is also partnering with the Air Canada Foundation on rebuilding efforts in the Caribbean.

A Halifax-based drone company called AeroVision was also aboard the Sunwing flight. It’s planning to use unmanned aerial vehicles to help assess what’s needed for rebuilding Barbuda.

“We’re told that they want a proper assessment done of the island,” said Travis Harvey from AeroVision.

While Antigua was mostly spared from the hurricane, some 95 per cent of Barbuda’s buildings were damaged or destroyed, forcing its 1,600-plus residents to flee for shelters on Antigua, less than 50 kilometres away.

“My home? Gone,” one Barbuda resident said from a shelter.

Farmer Eugene DeSouza is still awaiting word about his 200 sheep and seven cows. He hasn’t been able to go back home to look for them.

“I’m worried about them because that’s my livelihood,” he said.

Residents of St. John’s, Antigua, said that they want people to know that their island is still open for business, hoping that tourism money, as well as international aid, will help pay for reconstruction on neighbouring Barbuda.

The government thinks it could cost roughly $200 million U.S. to rebuild — money that it doesn’t have.

“So that is the best way that you can help Barbuda, is by taking a vacation and coming to Antigua,” said Asot Michael, tourism minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

Barbuda residents, however, still have no idea when they will be able to take the short ferry ride home.

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