GREENSBORO, N.C. – As millions evacuate the state of Florida, many are heading to the Triad.
Friday afternoon, dozens of people caught one of the last flights out of Miami’s airport. The airline Swift Air, with operations out of Greensboro, picked up families, children, and pets fleeing South Florida, and landed at Piedmont Triad International Airport around 5:15 p.m.
Some of the evacuees said the made the decision to leave last minute.
“There were zones being evacuated that haven't been evacuated in years,” said Willie Cabeza, “it's been bad but it's never been quite as bad.”
He and his wife have lived through hurricanes before, and had planned on staying because their home was built to withstand up to a Category 3 storm. However, once they heard Hurricane Irma could hit land as a Category 4 or 5, they changed their minds.
“Especially with a young kid, you don't want them to have that memory,” Cabeza said, “My wife was there during Andrew. So, when she heard that it was a four or five she said there's no way.”
Others got to the Miami Airport just as it was shutting down. Lisa Reyes’ friend alerted her to the Swift Air flight to Greensboro, so she packed her bags, and headed to the terminal with her two kids. But she said, as she arrived, workers were telling her to turn around – that there were no more flights.
“I thought I can't leave, because I don't have anywhere else to go,” she said, “And I just stood there, and I saw this guy in a captain’s hat and I just thought, oh my God is that for me and it was.”
She, like the other evacuees at PTI Friday, is glad to be out of harm’s way.
“We're going to make it work, and we have each other,” Reyes said.
Swift Air’s CEO has said they will fly the evacuees back after the storm, likely early next week.