Air Travelers Trying To Flee Florida Ahead Of Irma Out Of Luck

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The rush to leave South Florida has clogged major highways and caused a hectic scene at Miami and Ft. Lauderdale’s airports.

At Miami International, thousands of travelers showed up early Friday morning uncertain if their flight would even leave. Airlines cancelled dozens of flights and there was a mad scramble inside the terminal to book a ticket anywhere but here.

Airport officials said they are not a shelter and their parking garages, which are at capacity, are for ticketed passengers only. All others will be turned away.

Those with tickets are urged to check online to see if it is still schedule to go.

One woman who tried to leave ended up stranded at the airport after her flight was cancelled.

“Basically, it was evacuate and the thing was we thought they were evacuating like Saturday or something. Then all of a sudden yesterday morning it was ‘everybody gotta go,'” said Marcia McCullough. “The worst case scenario is that I’ll be stuck right here. I talked to somebody this morning and they said the worst case scenario, you won’t be kicked out but you will be stuck here.”

Charles Brown, who lives in Homestead, was able to get a flight out.

“We are going to Texas, so God bless our children,” said Brown.

Brown told CBS4’s Hank Tester he was in Cocoa Beach when Hurricane Andrew hit, which is why he doesn’t want to be here for Irma.

“I know what it is, because my whole house was torn down. I had to live with our daughter for a year before we could get back into our house,” he said.

American Airlines, which has a major hub at Miami International, stopped all flights in and out of the airport at 1 p.m.

The last MIA flight departed at around 9:40 p.m. – and there are no scheduled flights for Saturday and Sunday.

The chaotic scene also played out at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International.

Travelers with cancelled flights tried to book whatever they could before airlines stopped flying and the airport shut down.

The last flight out of Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport took off at 9 p.m. The airport will be closed for at least the next two days.

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