Greater Cincinnati residents in Hurricane Matthew's path evacuating

Posted at 5:35 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-06 19:30:37-04

CINCINNATI -- Greater Cincinnati natives in the southeast are among those evacuating before Hurricane Matthew strikes.

College students are coming home, travelers are worried they'll be stranded at closed airports. Others are simply trying to get out of the danger zone.

The phone was ringing nonstop at AAA's corporate office Downtown Thursday. The call volume was up 40 percent, and they brought on extra employees to handle it.

Stacie Schmahl is the vice president of corporate travel.

"We are handling travelers who either are calling in to look at their options for rebooking or rescheduling their travel," Schmahl said. "In addition to that, we are proactively reaching out to travelers who may be impacted by Hurricane Matthew."

That effort began Monday as the storm's path became more apparent. AAA corporate travel agent Nikki Farwick said callers aren't panicking.

"I think [travelers are] more concerned than anything else," Farwick said. "[Travelers] just wanted to get home and [are] just hoping that they can get home."

Farwick spoke to one man in Orlando who was worried that the airport would close and strand him.

"We rented him a car," Farwick said. "He drove to Atlanta. Then, we got him a flight from Atlanta to Columbus."

The job has gotten more difficult each day.

"It is getting a little tight and a little tough, but we're trying to get them anywhere they can get out of the danger zone," Schmahl said.

Henry Hartmann drove 11 hours home to Hyde Park from college in Charleston. South Carolina is directly in the storm's path.

"They told everyone to evacuate, but if you didn't have a set plan by the following morning, they were going to put you on a bus and take you either to Clemson's campus or USC's campus, and you were going to stay there," Hartmann said.

Getting out of Charleston was crazy.

"¬¬Two hours into our drive, we stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and there were over 60 cars flooding out of there at the same time," Hartmann said.

Hartmann wasn't complaining about a week off from school. His parents said they were just glad he was out of the storm's path and safe.