Americans Airlines was the first to land at Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport Tuesday, after the airport had been shut down for the duration of the storm.
Many other Florida and east coast airports were running on very limited schedules as they try to fully recover from the hurricane.
At Bradley International Airport, the majority of the direct flights to and from Florida were cancelled. There was, however, three direct flights leaving out of Bradley to Florida, one on Jet Blue to Orlando, one on Spirit Airlines to Fort Lauderdale, and one on Southwest to Fort Meyers.
Shamera Porter, from Belle Glade, Florida was boarding the flight to Ft. Lauderdale after visiting her son who is a UConn student. Porter breathing a sigh of relief that her home and family in Florida are doing okay, and that she was finally able to get onto a flight back home.
“We had already planned a trip, and then got here and got stuck. We were trying to get home Sunday and couldn’t get home and finally found a flight last night at the last minute. Flights are like $2,000, so we got lucky with Spirit,” Porter explained.
Dan Jacobs is a Connecticut native, but lives in South Beach Miami now. He too was relieved to get on one of the few flights to Florida out of Bradley.
“I was actually planning on flying back Sunday but then like all this happened at the same time so my flight got pushed to today,” Jacobs said. He had been in Connecticut for a visit with family when Irma hit. His girlfriend was still in Miami during the storm.
“She said they got hit pretty bad, she was up on the 22nd floor of some building and power went out, everything went out, there’s flooding,” Jacobs said.
Many, like Jacobs, spent the duration of Irma checking in on loved ones and working on plans to get back following evacuation.
“We left Friday,” Christina Fields, of Tampa, said. “I wanted to leave Tuesday before and then we kept refreshing, refreshing, refreshing for like 30 hours for a flight and then we finally got one.”
Fields and her dog Bentley are Tampa residents now, but moved there from Bristol, Connecticut five years ago. They got out of Florida ahead of Irma’s last minute turn towards Tampa.
“A little overwhelmed, my condo is on the water and my car is in a parking garage at a mall,” Fields said, filled with nerves as she prepared to board a plane back south and see what condition her home and car are in for the first time since the hurricane. She said she is mentally and emotionally preparing for the worst.
“I think I’m going to get a new car and a new place to live. It’s stressful, um, just trying to plan like you have to start your life all over again,” Fields said.
She traveled to Fort Lauderdale Tuesday and will wait it out there until she can get a flight to Tampa later at night. Throughout the day Tuesday most direct flights coming from Florida into Bradley were cancelled, with the exception of connecting flights.