Friends forced to flee Florida as Irma strikes

Strathearn Herald - - NEWS - Lynn Duke

Hol­i­day­mak­ers from Com­rie are glad to be home af­ter be­ing caught up in the ef­fects of Hur­ri­cane Irma in the US.

Terri Ba­con, Pamela Gil­lies and six of their friends and fam­ily, in­clud­ing one- year old Robert Ba­con, were en­joy­ing a fun- filled hol­i­day in Florida when news broke that the ma­jor storm was head­ing for the Sun­shine State.

Terri ex­plained: “On day three of our hol­i­day the lo­cals were start­ing to panic-buy and clear out the shops and fuel had run out at the petrol sta­tions. Un­til that hap­pened it hadn’t re­ally hit home to us how se­ri­ous it was. We had been car­ry­ing on as usual vis­it­ing the theme parks.

“We then be­gan getting con­stant mes­sages of con­cern from our friends and fam­ily, which made us ques­tion how the hur­ri­cane was be­ing re­ported back home. The man­age­ment com­pany where we were stay­ing tried to re­as­sure us but other peo­ple were telling us to get out. Then the gover­nor of the state Rick Scott came on the news and told ev­ery­one to leave. He said we can re­build your home but we can’t re­build your life.”

Pamela con­tin­ued: “There had been a trop­i­cal storm the day be­fore but it had cleared up. It was only when my brother Mark said we needed to go that we started to make plans on how we could get out.

“We de­cided to head for New York as it was on the east coast and we knew we would be able to get a flight home from there. Or­lando airport was due to close and even if we had only gone a short dis­tance up­state to get away from the storm, we didn’t know what we would be com­ing back to. By this time Terri’s hus­band had heard that the hur­ri­cane was going to be the size France.”

Terri and Pamela tried to book flights to New York but the prices were pro­hib­i­tive. How­ever, de­spite the web­sites crash­ing from the vol­ume of oth­ers do­ing like­wise they per­se­vered and even­tu­ally man­aged to get sep­a­rate flights home from New York.

They then phoned the car hire com­pany to see if they could drive their rental ve­hi­cles out of state and were told it would cost $700 per car.

“We had to do it though,” said Pamela. “New York is over 1000 miles away and we ex­pected the jour­ney to take around 16 hours. It took us 38 hours. It took us six and a half hours just to drive 100 miles, along with all the other peo­ple flee­ing from Florida. It was an ex­haust­ing jour­ney.”

De­spite the long hours in the car, tod­dler Robert took the ad­ven­ture in his stride. Terri added: “For his first ma­jor hol­i­day, it was quite an ad­ven­ture. Luck­ily he was very well be­haved and dealt with sit­ting in a car for that amount of time, although we did have a few stops and went to a mo­tel so the driv­ers could get a few hours sleep.”

They man­aged three days in New York en­joy­ing the sights. But the ex­pe­ri­ence has cost the friends an ex­tra £1159 each.

Sum­ming up Terri said: “Since we came back ev­ery­one has been ask­ing us about it. I wish we had gone to Ve­gas in­stead! We planned the hol­i­day over a year ago but de­cided not to go there be­cause it would have been too ex­pen­sive but we’ve ac­tu­ally ended up spend­ing more.

“Although it was a long and tir­ing way to get home, we did the right thing by leav­ing. A cur­few had been put in place so we wouldn’t have been able to go out and there was too much un­cer­tainty about what path the hur­ri­cane was going to take.

“It’s put us all off holidays abroad for a while”

We ex­pected the jour­ney to take 16 hours... it took 38

See­ing the sights Terri Ba­con and Pamela Gil­lies man­aged to en­joy a few days de­spite their stress­ful jour­ney flee­ing Hur­ri­cane Irma

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