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Global Affairs urges Canadians get out of path of hurricane Maria if possible

Last Updated Sep 21, 2017 at 5:40 am PST

A woman covers herself with a plastic bag as she makes her way to work as Hurricane Maria approaches the coast of Bavaro, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)

OTTAWA – Global Affairs says the federal government is closely monitoring hurricane Maria as the storm churns through the Caribbean and is already lending assistance to Dominica.

Global Affairs says it is providing help to Canadians impacted by the storm and has received 33 requests for assistance to return to Canada.

It says Canadians in areas where there is an “avoid all travel” advisory are urged to leave on a commercial flight while they are still available.

And it says Canadians should contact their loved ones who may be in the path of the storm to ensure they are aware of the latest recommendations.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has lost its major hurricane status, dropping to a Category 2 storm after raking Puerto Rico. But forecasters say some strengthening is in the forecast and Maria could again become a major hurricane by Thursday.

The Canadian Disaster Assessment Team has been deployed to the Caribbean region to evaluate urgent humanitarian needs, following a request from Dominica. Additionally, Global Affairs says the Canadian Armed Forces remain in the region and are prepared to help.

_— with files from The Associated Press