Ontario students pushed to Vancouver as Hurricane Lane scraps Hawaii vacation
It was supposed to be a sunny beach holiday to cap an international school trip.
Instead, a class of students from Ingersoll, Ont. found themselves facing stormy skies and emergency alerts — along with an early flight out of Hawaii to Vancouver.
Teacher Sharon Docherty and her class had been in Australia and New Zealand before a planned three-day stay on Hawaii’s Big Island on the way home.
But with Hurricane Lane bearing down, plans changed quickly.
“There were sirens, emergency broadcasts, there was everything. You could open the window and hear the sirens,” said student Kennedy Scott.
“We’re all from little Ontario, we don’t usually get tropical storms, so it was definitely a big difference there, a little scary,” added Megan Bates.
WATCH: Hurricane Lane: Drone footage captures raging, flooded rivers in Hilo, Hawaii
The group managed to get a luau and a tour of a pineapple plantation in on their first day, before the dark clouds and winds rolled in.
But the approaching storm was never far from their minds, Docherty said.
“We knew right away that the Big Island was getting hit and we saw that a lot of winds were coming in and a lot of rain, especially in Hilo area,” she said. “They were actually under water and flooding.”
Docherty stayed in touch with her travel company, and said she jumped at the chance for an early exit.
“They gave me a call [Thursday], and said, ‘How do you feel about getting out a day early?’ And was automatically, ‘Yes, get me out of here,’ because everything was getting shut down in Honolulu,” she said.
WATCH: Red Cross confirms 1500 residents in Hawaii now in Hurricane shelters
“My kids were going to be stuck in a hotel room, so I thought, why do that when they could get out and come back to Canada?”
The group will now spend a day in Vancouver, where they hope to tour the town and visit Granville Island before flying east Saturday morning.
The hurricane has prompted a travel warning from the federal government, urging Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to the islands.
It has also impacted flights.
WestJet cancelled all flights on Thursday and Friday, and has now scratched an additional two outbound flights to Vancouver — one from Honolulu and one from Kahului on Saturday.
On Thursday, the airline added a pair of extra flights to get travellers off the islands.
WATCH: British Columbians caught up in the biggest weather threat to Hawaii in decades
Air Canada has delayed its one scheduled Friday flight by 12 hours to allow the hurricane to pass.
Both WestJet and Air Canada are offering no-penalty re-booking options for people on the islands and impacted by the storm.
All travellers on the islands are urged to double-check the status of their flights before heading for the airport.
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