Monday, August 20, 2007

Blow Hard Dean

The storm is now at Cat 5.

No sign of fellow blogger, Matt H. His vacation in Mexico must have been a wash out, sadly. Is he home or headed home yet?

Pointers or insights welcomed on him, fellow Pittsburghers, storm news and whatever goes in an open thread like this.


Anonymous said...

Good morning everyone,

it is 1:30AM in Pittsburgh and believe it or not I am safe and sound in my home tonight. I was very fortunate to get out of the way of the storm. From the looks of things and from what I was hearing from Cancun airport officials we had one of the last flights out of the airport before they were to close this evening.

Thanks to everyone who has called and E-mailed me. It was greatly appreciated.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review actually has a story in today's Tuesday paper about my day trapped in the Cancun airport.

City couple race storm to get out of Cancun
By Mike Wereschagin
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The sun was shining Monday morning over Cancun, but Matt Hogue and Nicole Albanese, of Pittsburgh, knew what was coming toward the Mexican coast.
Even as some employees of the GR Solaris hotel assured them Hurricane Dean would not be a problem, others around them rushed to board up the resort's windows, disconnect electrical outlets and tie down palm trees.

"Everybody, they kind of lie to you or act like nothing's happening," Hogue, 23, of Elliot, said from Cancun International Airport.

The most direct warning they got about the killer storm, a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 160 mph, came in the form of a piece of paper slipped under their hotel door Sunday. The top portion was in Spanish, with the underlying English text saying the Mexican government was advising them to get out.

Hogue and his girlfriend, Nicole Albanese, 19, of Beechview, cut short their planned weeklong vacation, paid $1,400 for two tickets on a Delta Airlines flight and joined thousands of fellow travelers trying to flee the Yucatan Peninsula.
Their scheduled 5:20 p.m. EDT departure was planned to get them out of the area mere hours before Hurricane Dean, which grew into a Category 5 storm late Monday with sustained winds of 160 mph, slammed into the coastal city. Hurricane Katrina was a Category 3 storm when it hit New Orleans in 2005.

Hogue and Albanese were scheduled to arrive in Pittsburgh about midnight, shortly before the eye of the storm made landfall far behind them.

"Everybody's running around like crazy," Albanese said from the airport.

The couple arrived Aug. 16 and had planned to leave Thursday. With the shortened trip and the extra cost of emergency airplane tickets home, the long weekend in Mexico cost them about $1,000 a day.

From the time they arrived, taxi drivers and hotel employees told them the storm would turn north, toward Cuba, Hogue said.

"I think they do that to make you not panic," Albanese said.

Government officials planned to cut much of the city's power before the hurricane made landfall, Hogue said. That bit of information helped them decide to get out.

"I don't want to be here" with no running water, Hogue said. "This is not a good place to be."

As the taxi took them to the airport, the couple passed several military trucks full of troops and drove over bridges guarded by rifle-toting soldiers. They arrived at the airport eight hours before their flight was scheduled to leave, Hogue said.

"It is just an absolute madhouse," with thousands of passengers rushing to escape the storm's path, Hogue said. He snapped pictures of the crowd. "I wanted to remember what it was like, so I can appreciate Pittsburgh International (Airport)."

It took three hours to check in, leaving the couple five hours to sit around, surrounded by frantic travelers. One of them was a Salt Lake City police officer who had to sleep on the airport floor for two days as he waited on a standby list. Inflated food and drink prices in the airport included $3 cans of Dr. Pepper and $6.50 slices of pizza, they said.

Still, Hogue said, they are already making plans to return next year, albeit a little earlier in the season.

"I got a nice tan out of it. It's a very expensive tan, a $3,000 tan, but ... we had a good time," Hogue said. "The ocean's beautiful. The people at the hotel were great -- just a little delusional."

Anonymous said...

I wish he got stuck there personally.

Matt H said...

Well I didn't so blah to you Mr. Anon.

You just troll these blogs looking for any little mention of me so you can chime in with some sort of negative comment.

Mark---I'm home. Watch KDKA tonight between 6 and 6:20pm.

Mark Rauterkus said...


Thanks for the email.

Yeah, mean people are goofy. They are invited to be mean elsewhere, not here on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Well Matt, Don't you troll the blogs looking for negative comments about the Mayor so you can spin it? Puppetboy?