Happiest place on Earth? Maritimers stranded at Disney World struggle to return home
Published Monday, September 11, 2017 8:05PM ADT
It was supposed to be magical, but the Stears family from Nova Scotia’s Stillwater Lake says they’ve found themselves trying to leave the happiest place on Earth.
“There's a bit of damage down here, outside our door,” says Tom Stears. “We spent all last night listening to the howling winds and the thumping of broken signs.”
Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, tore a path through Cuba and Florida this weekend, uprooting trees, damaging buildings, flooding streets and causing a dangerous storm surge. More than 7 million homes and businesses lost power during Irma's passage, most of them in Florida.
The Stears are staying at Disney's Pop Century Resort. They say they’re now desperately trying to leave.
“We have got a hold of WestJet. They can fly us out of here (Tuesday) at two, so as of right now we have to find transportation out of this park, out of this area, to the airport as well as trying to find a place to stay tonight,” says Tom Stears.
WestJet had a rescue flight head to St. Maarten Monday morning and another was planning on arriving in Toronto Tuesday evening. Both Air Canada and WestJet are asking Canadians to get in touch, and they'll try to find a flight for them in the coming days.
Dan Clarke and his wife went to Orlando for their 18th anniversary, and say it's definitely one for the books.
“Last night there was definitely some heavy rain at times and then it would go and break off to a light shower,” say Clarke. “There was constant breeze and then heavy gusts.”
The couple is also staying at a Disney resort, and says staff members have been trying their best to keep people safe and happy. The Clarkes have managed to book with Delta Airlines, hoping to leave Florida Tuesday evening for Nova Scotia.
“We're staying here at the resort tonight. We booked an extra night past what we were supposed to be,” says Clarke.
Disney says they are working on an assessment of any damage at their parks and resorts, but are hoping to resume normal operations Monday.
Airlines are continuing to ask travellers to be patient and get in touch about flights home.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.