With Hurricane Irma barreling through the Caribbean and headed towards Florida, folks in the Sunshine State are trying to get out. The problem? Bottle necked roads. Plus, demand for flights out caused a huge spike in ticket prices. It's something an East Peoria man who happens to be a friend of anchor Caitlin Knute learned the hard way.
Brock Terpening and his mom were visiting her winter home in Fort Myers when they realized there was no avoiding Irma.
Terpening was scheduled to fly out on Friday, but then got an alert that his flight had been canceled. So, he got online to rebook, and found this.
"The flight's were probably $400-$500 but by the time we got to the chair with our credit cards they'd gone up to $1,500 for Friday for one way," he shared with us via Facetime.
He goes on to detail how that's when they decided to take his mom's car and drive, but that proved difficult, too.
"We went hunting for gas and they were totally out. We drove by 8 gas stations that were totally out, and finally the 9th gas station we found some, but they only had premium which was our only option, so we filled up."
Then they found themselves trapped in traffic, traveling a mere 5 miles per hour, alongside other desperate drivers who went so far as to strap gas cans on top of and even behind their vehicles.
"It looked funny when we were leaving, but then it wasn't so funny after we stopped twice and the 4 gas stations off an off ramp didn't have any gas at all."
At the time he pulled over to Facetime with us, Terpening and his mom had decided to take back roads through Alabama to try to beat the traffic, which he thought was helping. As for whether he wished he'd left sooner?
We probably should have left a day earlier, but it was 92 and sunny so it's hard to jump in the car for 20 hours, which will probably be 30 hours by the time we get home," he admits.
After demand for domestic flights out of Miami drove prices as high as $3,000 on some websites, airlines faced a backlash of criticism. Many, including Jetblue, American Airlines, and Delta have all announced they are now capping ticket prices as low as $99. Although for many, like Terpening, that news broke after they'd already opted to take their chances on the road.