St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN); The US government continues to provide flights to evacuate citizens from Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma, but there are strings attached.
Evacuees will have to reimburse the United States Government.
According to the US State Department departure assistance is expensive and according to U.S. law “requires that any departure assistance be provided on a reimbursable basis to the maximum extent practicable”.
This means that evacuation costs are ultimately the individuals’ responsibility.
Persons being evacuated must first sign a form promising to repay the U.S. government and are charged the equivalent of a full coach commercial fare on a comparable mode of transportation at the time that commercial travel ceases to be a viable option.
However, evacuation doesn’t mean you are taken states-side.
The State Department says persons will be taken to a nearby safe location, where they will need to make their own onward travel arrangements. In the case of the Leeward Islands, evacuees are taken to Puerto Rico.
On Wednesday there were planned flights for US citizens departing Anguilla, St. Maarten, and the BVI. Travelers were instructed to bring their passport and travel documents to the airport if they have them, and if they don’t, they could still proceed to the airport for processing. US Citizens were warned that flights would be boarded on a first come, first serve basis, and children, the elderly, and persons with special needs would be boarded first. Travelers were told to arrive at the airports early and to expect long waits.
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens to avoid travel to The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and the Eastern Caribbean due to Hurricane Irma.