Vacation destinations suffer damage from Hurricane Irma, which impacts many spring break travel plans.
The Florida Keys, a popular vacation spot, is currently closed to visitors due to infrastructural damages and ongoing repairs.
Deborah Roberson, 70, a resident in Pikeville, Tennessee recently booked a room at Bluegreen Resorts in Marathon, a 10 mile strip located in the middle of the Keys island chain, but received a phone call from the hotel canceling the reservation.
“Hopefully we can go next year,” says Roberson.
Bluegreen Resorts and other hotels in Marathon, Lower Keys and Key West have closed their hotels indefinitely following the aftermath of Irma.
According the Florida Keys website, different areas are likely to open before others, but an exact reopening date for all areas is unknown. Travelers with plans in the coming weeks and months should contact airlines and hotels to modify their plans.
However, Key West officials announced that they hope their island will be open for Fantasy Fest, a costume festival that starts on Friday, October 20.
In Florida’s neighboring state, Georgia, some areas on the coast are currently open. In Savannah, Georgia, Homewood Suites by Hilton located on the Savannah Historic Riverfront are operating.
Jason Lemley, 32, a resident in Dahlonega, Georgia drove to Savannah, Georgia for a school conference. He confirmed his reservation with Homewood Suites on Monday, September 18 by phone.
Turks and Caicos was another popular vacation destination that was impacted by Irma. Lisa Chambers, 52, a resident of Duluth, Georgia was not initially concerned about her vacation with her husband being effected. However, Chambers received a phone call that the resort, Seven Stars Resort, did not obtain major damage.
“They offered no information on the area surrounding the resort (in the town and such),” said Chambers. “They said the resort would be up and running by October 5, and no refunds were available.”
Many cruise ships have already modified sailings for September and October.
Instead of visiting affected ports, the ships may sail an extra day at sea or leave a day later according to the Royal Caribbean website.
For future sailings, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean are working to use alternative ports.
To help the affected areas, Royal Caribbean provides relief in the form of supplies and workers to using their ships. Their website also boasts evacuating 1,700 people.
Likewise, Carnival Cruise Line provided relief in the form of water, clothing, food, toiletries, and medical supplies for Harvey and Irma.
Carnival Cruise Line also changed some port locations and shortened some vacations for cruise ships in September.
However, Carnival Cruise Line still offers cruises to the Bahamas and Cuba this fall.
Vacationers are not the only ones impacted by the storm, American missionaries are being sent to areas within the US to provide relief.
The North American Mission Board (NAMB), website posts updates on the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams’ Irma and Harvey relief progress.
NAMB focuses on providing relief to Texas even as relief in Irma-affected area relief continues.
According to their website, they need volunteers for weekday projects in Houston because many of their volunteers needed to return to work.
These NAMB relief trips will continue to take place in the spring as many churches will be sending spring break mission teams.
AWAITING INTERVIEW WITH NAMB
Written and Produced by Marilyn Primovic, Rachel Madray, Reann Huber, and Shannon Hochschild