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Damage caused by Hurricane Maria in Roseau, Dominica, on Sept. 20, 2017.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Two weeks after Hurricane Irma left Canadians in dire conditions on the island of Saint Martin, another hurricane, Maria, has put Canadians in peril in another Caribbean nation, Dominica.

Communications with the island are sporadic. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit reported that devastation was widespread, with roofs torn off many houses and fears the abundant rains will cause landslides.

"We need to be evacuated we are not going to survive no food no electricity no water I am hurt kids ok," Hannah Naveen-Banks messaged her husband, David Banks, on Thursday morning from Dominica's capital, Roseau.

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Ms. Naveen-Banks, a 37-year-old Canadian who started medical school at Dominica's All Saints University this fall, did not give more details about her injuries. Her mother was supposed to join her to look after her two young children, 8-month-old Ezekiel and 5-year-old Abigail, but could not because of the hurricanes.

The family contacted the Canadian government, but nothing further happened.

Late on Thursday, Mr. Banks, who also has British citizenship and lives in Britain, got a call from the UK Foreign Office.

"They have been placed on a UK military helicopter and are being airlifted to Bridgetown," he said in an e-mail. "My son needs hospital care for dehydration."

Mr. Banks had spent four tense days with little news of what was happening to his family. The first communication he received from his wife after Maria made landfall on Monday night came in a series of terse online messages: "No floors no beds University is gone all blown out no communication we are looting food but no food no baby food."

Mr. Banks said he had lost contact with his wife and children as heavy rain began to penetrate their rental house. They had no electricity, no running water and two candles for light and heat. "The agony of not knowing [was] unbearable," Mr. Banks said.

It wasn't clear in Ms. Naveen-Banks' text message to her husband early on Thursday where she was sheltering. She said she slept on a floor while her children used chairs.

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"Abi and Zeek are strong," she assured him.

Elsewhere on the island, 20 Canadians found protection with British soldiers, although their location was unclear, said Nadia Araujo, a Toronto resident whose sister Denise is also a medical student at All Saints.

Nadia spoke briefly with Denise, 25, on Thursday. "When she first heard my voice, she started crying. She didn't think she would hear my voice again," Nadia recalled.

She said her sister and a roommate had been sheltering half a dozen other Canadian students in their house, which had suffered flood damages but had not lost its roof.

"We chase landing helicopters. We have to loot for food and water," Denise texted her sister earlier in the week.

Many local people had been helpful, but at night, Denise said, she and her friends remained indoors for fear of robbers. "People walk around with machete knives, it's crazy," she said in her text messages.

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On Thursday, Denise told her sister in a phone call that she and 19 others were now with British soldiers.

Nadia said All Saints told her it was sending food, water and first-aid supplies on a ship, but could not take passengers off the island.

Mr. Skerrit said on Thursday that supply ships could not unload because of sea swells, so their cargo had to be transferred to smaller boats.

He also said Canefield airport, one of the island's two landing facilities, had reopened, although the largest aircraft it could handle were 19-passenger Twin Otter planes.

Mr. Banks said he had trouble getting information from his wife's school.

All Saints describes itself on its website as Canadian-owned. A woman who answered the phone at the school's office in Toronto said it would not comment "until we have confirmed details."

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It was the second hurricane Ms. Naveen-Banks faced this month.

Just before Irma arrived, she was flying to Dominica with the children, but their British Airways flight was delayed and then would not fly them beyond Antigua, where they were stuck for a week.

Mr. Banks said the Canadian government was of little help. Because his daughter also has U.S. citizenship, he contacted the U.S. consulate, which arranged for a vehicle to move his wife and children to a hotel with electricity.

"I sought help from the Canadian govt not once but twice involving two Cat 5 hurricanes within 2 weeks," Mr. Banks said by e-mail late Thursday. "I did not get help in either case. First it was the Americans who came to our aid and then the British."

Global Affairs Canada said late on Thursday that the severe damage caused by Hurricane Maria has made communication difficult, but that 201 Canadians – including 188 in Dominica – have asked for help to leave the region. Most attend the Ross University School of Medicine, although the department said it is also aware of students at All Saints. The department said it is working with Ross University to get its students to St. Lucia by boat and then on commercial flights home. That evacuation was scheduled to begin on Thursday and take a few days. The students are reported to have food and water.

The nearest Canadian consular mission is in Barbados.

The federal government faced criticism that it responded too slowly after Irma two weeks ago. Scores of Canadians were trapped in the Dutch Caribbean territory of St. Maarten.

Canadians with family and friends in areas hit by the hurricane who need help can e-mail SOS@international.gc.ca or call (613) 996-8885.

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