Canadians evacuated from the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma

The federal government says it expected most Canadians needing to leave the Caribbean were to have been evacuated by commercial flights by Monday night, including 90 from Turks and Caicos and 150 from St. Maarten.

Some humanitarian assistance was also being readied or already on the way to the region, with the expectation that much more would follow.

A special team from Global Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence is in Antigua to determine what help is needed after the region endured the one-two punch of hurricanes Irma and Jose.

But Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said the top priority was helping Canadians affected by the hurricanes.

Officials said they received requests for help from 368 Canadians, though they acknowledged there may have been others who hadn't yet been able to get in contact with Global Affairs.

The government's actions Monday followed a storm of criticism from family and friends of those trapped by the hurricanes who questioned why Canada didn't send military planes to pick them up, as other countries have done.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the main problem has been the availability of airstrips, and in some cases, permission to leave with passengers.