Escape from Hurricane Irma

Local News

PUERTO RICO (WCIA) — Hurricane Irma hit the Virgin Islands taking houses and lives with it, and two people from Champaign were there to see it all.

They were on a vacation with friends when the hurricane hit. But they were able to evacuate to safety. One of the resorts on the island evacuated Mark Ballard and his friends by boat and now they’re in Puerto Rico, just waiting to come home.

They’d been planning this vacation for more than a year. When they heard about the hurricane, the locals told them the storms are normal and not to worry. They said for the past 30 years the hurricanes have always headed north, avoiding their area. But when they started to see the heavy rain and torrential storms, they quickly realized that wasn’t the case this time.

“It was unreal. At its worst point it looked like there was a solid wall of water traveling across our hurricane windows with the occasional piece of debris, you know a piece of roof or a sail off a sail boat or something like that sliding by the windows. I mean it was truly a white out. Like a snow storm accept with water.”

They kept checking with airlines and the ferries but none of them had options to get off the island. Fortunately they got in touch with one of the resorts and they provided a boat to safety in Puerto Rico, which is where they are now. The two will be coming back to Champaign on Wednesday.

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