BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As millions of Floridians brace for Hurricane Irma, travelers all over the country are also feeling the impact of the Category 5 storm.
“outside, there’s just lots and lots of wind. you can actually here it inside the room. we’ve been told to stay in our room.”
Several flights out of the state and many cruise ship companies have already canceled their trips due to the potentially disastrous weather. According to CBS News, major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival, and Disney Cruise Lines have all canceled or altered the itinerary for trips set to leave from Miami and Tampa.
One Baltimore travel agent said her cruise had to be rerouted to dodge the storm.
“Are we going to be OK? Are we going to be able to stop somewhere? We weren’t sure,” said Paula Dozier of DTS Midway Vacations.
“To the extent they have to close the Port of Miami or Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, that could be a pretty big deal. Those are the biggest cruise ports in the United States,” said James Hardiman, a securities analyst who follows the publicly traded cruise lines.
There are also two more named storms churning in the Atlantic and the Gulf.
All this hurricane activity comes just two weeks after Harvey unleashed its power on Houston. At least 60 people died and tens of thousands of homes were flooded.
Experts at the University of Maryland have been studying the ferocious nature of the storms and why they are so catastrophic.
“The disturbing part is the major rainfall events,” said Gerry Galloway Ph. D, a civil engineering professor at the University of Maryland and a retired Army brigadier general.
Galloway said global warming may be a factor but the bigger issue is where people are choosing to live.
“One of the problems is everybody loves to get near the water, and people move to the water, have second homes to the water, people retire near the water, and these events are catching those people who really didn’t understand what their risk was when they moved into these areas,” he said.
The airline industry may be feeling the impact of Irma even worse. After Hurricane Harvey caused over 13,000 flights to be canceled, airlines are already beginning to ground flights scheduled to take off from Florida airports. People looking to head home or simply escape Florida before Irma’s arrival have also reportedly been running into another issue: price gouging.
Several travelers posted screenshots of various ticket booking websites showing prices out of Florida ranging from $1,000 to $7,000, depending on the destination.
“This is what happens when thousands of people want to leave a place all at once,” said Airline Weekly managing partner, Seth Kaplan via The Verge.
In response to the growing allegations that airlines were taking advantage of the impending hurricane, several airlines have capped the prices on their remaining tickets. JetBlue, American Airlines, and Delta have all announced capped prices, with JetBlue dropping rates down to $99 on some flights.
“Given that many Floridians are struggling to get out of harm’s way, this is welcome news,” said Florida Senator Bill Nelson in a statement. “I hope more airlines do the right thing and follow suit.”
At least ten people in Irma’s path have died, and similar to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the fear is that number will grow.