Cruisers port of debarkation yet uncertain in Irma
Watching Hurricane Irma’s deadly swath through the Caribbean more closely than most are the kith and kin of about a dozen Batesville folks who left Port Canaveral, Florida last Sunday with a few thousand close friends on a cruise to the Bahamas.
Of course, the ship was rerouted away from Irma. The cruise ended up in Cozumel, the tourist-destination island off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, then to neighboring Belize. Both would be ideal destinations, but I expect the enjoyment of the scenery was somewhat tempered by concern over the return trip.
We first heard that they were on their way back to Port Canaveral where they were expected to arrive midday today. That became a matter of concern for the landlubbers among us and probably for the cruisers as well with the ship rounding the southern tip of Florida about the same time the Irma’s eye would be 300-400 miles southeast. The ocean is bound to be rough through there.
Then, once the cruisers get back to Port Canaveral where their vehicles are waiting, there is concern about whether they will be able to find gasoline for the return trip.
At mid-afternoon Thursday, we have heard that a mandatory evacuation has been ordered for Port Canaveral starting mid-afternoon today. So if our cruisers end up at Port Canaveral, they will join many thousands more close friends as they crawl along the roadways wondering if they will ever get back to Panola County.
As the hours pass, more of those kith and kin have become linked through social media to become a virtual network of anxiety over the travelers and their fate. It is a reminder of how closely ties of family and friendship run through this community, especially in times of crisis, whether real or perceived.
We hope that this crisis is only perceived and that this time next week we will have heard stories of life aboard ship in the midst of rolling seas and and life along roadways where the traffic is anything but rolling.