The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 29, 2012

Area travelers feeling storm's wrath

By Amanda Dyslin
The Free Press


Vacations out East have affected plenty of Minnesotans, including folks with ties to the Mankato area.

Active-duty serviceman Eric Loge of Mankato is stationed in Maryland, and he commented on The Free Press Facebook page that he was just biding time before the power was expected to go out Monday. Hollie Wilmes-Cox, also from Mankato, was in western North Carolina Monday awaiting the snowstorm that was about to hit the Appalachian mountains.

Others, vacationing where the eye of the storm was about to hit farther north, were high-tailing it out of the area.

Brittany Katuin, who works in technical support for Verizon Wireless Center, has been on a road trip with her husband along the East Coast since last week. Katuin was the costume designer at Bethany Lutheran College until last semester, and she has been doing some work at a college in upstate New York for a few months. Her husband flew in from their home in Eden Prairie to start their road trip in Syracuse.

The couple left for Boston on Thursday and also spent a couple of days in New York during the weekend. From there, they drove to Philadelphia to visit Katuin’s cousin, but news of the impending storm was all over the media. So they decided it was best to leave Philadelphia early Monday morning to get ahead of the storm.

“We were going to spend the next three days in (Washington) D.C. We did cancel that,” she said.

While in Philadelphia, the city shut down the transit, and bridges were being closed Monday. Roads were being closed south of where Katuin’s cousin’s family lives, just over the river from Philadelphia in New Jersey.

“We were basically outrunning the storm,” Katuin said from her cellphone on the road. “The most exciting parts of the storm aren’t supposed to be happening mainly until 8 o’clock (Monday night). ... We were supposed to be running straight into it (in D.C.).”

When the couple left Philadelphia, Katuin said conditions were still OK, just rain and wind. By Monday night they planned to drive to St. Louis, Mo., and stay the night before heading home.

The storm was hitting the New York area Monday, and evacuations were happening Sunday, which is when Eagle Lake residents Judy Born and Peggy Wille were getting one of the last flights out of JFK Airport.

The two friends were on a weeklong ladies vacation to New York and had been planning to stay until Tuesday, but the weather changed their plans. Their hotel was in Times Square.

“I wanted to stay and stick it out. (I thought) we could go to a shelter or something,” said Born, who works at The Free Press.

But the two decided the storm was too dangerous, and Born called her son to see if he could help get them an earlier flight.

“I finally called my son Sunday morning, and he was ticked off, and he said we should have been working on this sooner,” she said.

On top of the original cost of tickets the two bought originally, they each had to pay $800 for first-class return tickets, which was all that was available.

Born said they were lucky to find a bus to take them to the airport because the subway system was shutdown, and they met someone in New York who told them taxis weren’t taking people to the airport. Born said many people were trying to get flights out of the area.

“The place was just hoppin’. There were so many people,” she said.

Born said the two didn’t hear anything about the storm until they were already in New York. Born’s sister, a flight attendant with Delta, and Born’s mom called to warn them about Superstorm Sandy.

“We slept every night with The Weather Channel on,” Born said.

When they left New York Sunday, Born said it was only sprinkling outside. She’s glad they got home safely, but she said they still had hoped to do more sightseeing in New York.

“We weren’t done,” she said.