People stuck in Florida, vacations cut short as Irma moves in

Since Hurricane Irma began churning in the Atlantic and growing in strength, many people from Southern New England are getting stuck in its path. (WJAR)

Since Hurricane Irma began churning in the Atlantic and growing in strength, many people from Southern New England are getting stuck in its path.

Trips have been cut short -- or cancelled altogether.

Marlene Matias-Cortez from West Warwick, along with her husband, Jay, were supposed to be on a flight to Puerto Rico Wednesday afternoon.

“They actually cancelled our connecting flight from Florida to San Juan,” she told NBC 10 News.

While the storm wasn’t forecast to make a direct impact on the island, they were prepared to go anyhow.

It’s a major disappointment when your bags are packed, and you're ready to go, for a whole week.

But with Irma so close to Puerto Rico, even forecast to stay offshore, having already made landfall over Barbuda, Anguilla, and the northern British Virgin Islands, it was too close for comfort for the airlines.

Matias-Cortez isn’t happy, but she understands. She has spent 17 years of her life there, having gone through hurricanes before.

“No water for months -- we had no electricity for months,” said Cortez-Matias. “It was scary, actually scary. It's sad that I didn't get to go see my family and friends, and pay our respects for the one's that we've lost there, but I'd rather be safe here and enjoy a little time off before going back to work.”

Meanwhile, for the Goldberg's from Cumberland, who have been in Key West since Sunday, they are getting out just in time.

Bethany Goldberg, her husband, and another couple, had a great vacation, but watching the weather, they started getting concerned.

On Tuesday night, they said it was like a ghost town. Everything was boarded up and people were scrambling to get out. They had planned on leaving the next night anyhow, with flights already booked.

But, what about others, whose vacations are being cut short?

“Oh, it's chaos,” Goldberg said. “Like, United Airlines and Silver Airlines just decided they're going to cancel all their flights, so the ticket counters are completely empty. There's no one manning those.”

The rest are making plans on the fly.

“People are deciding if they're going to stay with friends down here and just hunker down. There are some busses that they're trying to get together to get people off the islands, but they're running out of gas, so that's a problem,” Goldberg said. “There's no car rentals. It's getting to be a little hairy down here.”

Bruce and Rossana Botelho of Warwick, who are stuck in Ocala, shared similar sentiments. The couple said there aren't a lot of options.

“We're going to hunker down and be safe here,” Bruce told NBC 10.

They hoped to fly home during the weekend, but likely won't get out. Finding a hotel to wait out Irma isn't easy either.

“We wanted to extend our stay because of the hurricane and they said, ‘I'm sorry, we're booked,’” Bruce said. “Worst case, they let us hunker it out in the lobby.”

Instead, he thinks they'll drive to a hotel with a room in Orlando.

“I'm not sure what we're going to be driving into, but the hotel down in Orlando says they're going to be open,” Bruce said.

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