WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — As areas of Florida are being evacuated ahead of Hurricane Ian’s arrival, many are booking flights to get out of the state and away from the eye of the storm.
At Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport Monday, a flight from Tampa was packed full of folks relieved to touch down in the Ocean State.
“I was a little worried we wouldn’t get home,” said Carolyn Comeau of Scituate, who flew to Tampa to attend Sunday’s Buccaneers game.
Ian is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane in the coming days and has its sights set on Florida.
Hundreds of thousands of people are being evacuated from low-lying areas, and thousands of National Guard troops have been mobilized across the state.
“You could see it already heading to her house,” said Portsmouth resident Jane Weatherby, who flew out to Tampa on Friday to visit her mom so she wouldn’t spend her 86th birthday alone.
“When we got there, we saw that the hurricane was coming so I got a ticket right away for her on my flight home,” she added.
The pair were amazed that they were able to book it. Many flights are sold out as people rush to leave the area.
“That’s why we got on the plane and came (to Rhode Island.) We were lucky to get a reservation,” said her Weatherby’s mother, Judy Collins.
Collins lives an hour south of Tampa in Sarasota. In her 30 years there, she said she’s never had to evacuate for a hurricane.
If it hits Tampa, Hurricane Ian will be the city’s first direct hit by a major hurricane in a century.
“I’m worried about them,” Collins said of her friends she had to leave behind. “It’s not going to be a pretty picture.”