MEMPHIS, Tenn.– The final flight to Memphis from the Tampa Bay area landed at Memphis International Airport Tuesday afternoon as Floridians prepare for Hurricane Ian to hit the west coast.
Forecasters expect Hurricane Ian to make landfall in western Florida on Wednesday. It’s been more than 100 years since the Tampa Bay area has seen a direct hit.
Many passengers like Samantha Story from Melbourn, Florida picked up their luggage and let out a sigh of relief because they made it on a flight out of the state.
“I almost did not get through the airport in a wheelchair. They were so packed, everybody trying to leave at the same time, holidays, vacationers, snowbirds, everyone decided to leave at the same time,” Story said.
Daviera Powell was one of the passengers onboard Spirit Airlines flight 2866 from Orlando to Memphis, one of the last flights out of that area before all the airports officially close due to Hurricane Ian.
“We just found the first flight we could out of Orlando because everything was pretty much done in Tampa at that point,” Powell said.
Powell and her boyfriend decided to leave Tuesday morning because her home is in a mandatory evacuation zone.
The quick decision brought them to Memphis, where they plan to eat barbeque and do a little sightseeing.
“We’ve both never been here before so we’re going to make the most of it and get a little work in in between,” Powell said.
It is uncertain when the airports will reopen so these passengers can return home.