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SC man describes "frantic" trip through FL airport amid Hurricane Ian

A relaxing vacation turned to one of stress for a Columbia man traveling from the Caribbean through Florida amid Hurricane Ian.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Hurricane Ian is creating travel chaos for those looking to get out of the Sunshine State.

On Wednesday alone, FlightAware, a tracking service, said more than 900 flights were cancelled in Florida.

Among those making the trip was Robert Reese, a Lower Richland native.

He left South Carolina for vacation in the Dominican Republic, first facing Hurricane Fiona.

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"Really, I was just thinking the trip was going to get cancelled," Reese said, "but I stayed in contact with my uncle who was already there and he was like, ‘Oh, no. We just got some heavy rain. So, come on.”

After five days on the island, it was the trip back that left him wondering if they would make it home safely.

"You get text updates from the airlines," Reese said, "and so they sent me a text message saying the storm was expected to hit and this was your first travel alert."

Credit: Robert Reese
Robert Reese on vacation with family.

Miami was one stop in his trip home. More than 170 flights were delayed there the day he traveled through, according to FlightAware.

"It was frantic. The flight out was delayed, and it was fully packed, and people there were trying to get on," Reese said. "The actual plane flight was very turbulent…. It was just bad weather the whole ride."

RELATED: Hurricane Ian swamps southwest Florida, trapping people in homes

His uncle, scheduled for a later flight, was unable to fly into Florida and had to be rerouted to an airport in New York.

Reese, settling in at home, said he's feeling thankful.

"This was an opportunity for me to get away and to recalibrate. You know?," Reese said. "It did that, even though the hurricane came."

As of September 28, Ian is expected to bring strong wind and rain to South Carolina, after it leaves Florida.

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