HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Hurricane Matthew came through Jamaica Sunday night and is projected to make landfall in Haiti and other Caribbean islands Monday night and Tuesday morning.
Huntsville newlyweds Eric Cooper and Elisa Pegues left on their honeymoon last Monday, and nearly found themselves in the crosshairs during their trip. They hadn't even heard of a storm called "Matthew" until their resort began prepping for the hurricane. “First we heard of it, they had started taking down all of the furniture on the beach so we went over and asked, so why are you taking all of that down? He’s like, there is a storm coming through, but no big deal," says the couple.
Eric and Elisa continued to enjoy their island paradise located in the Dominican Republic. They say they only became concerned when they started reading articles online. “Like oh, a Hurricane Matthew is coming, a Category 1, no big deal. And then it only got worse and worse," they say.
Travel agent Pamela Rigsby with Soo Hoo Travel Group, says there are always options open for couples like Eric and Elisa, that consider leaving before the storm hits. She says most major airlines will move up your travel date for no charge.
“They do not want to put their plane or their passengers are in any kind of danger," says Rigsby.
She says if you're staying at a resort, they will typically let you reschedule your booked up days at no cost.
Cruise ships will typically reroute the ship's stops to avoid stormy ports of call. “The cruise lines are going to absolutely look out in the client’s best interest. So what they’re going to do is monitor the path of the storm and if needed they will change the itinerary," she says.
Pamela's biggest piece of advice is to always get trip insurance and use a travel agent, because it's times like these where they're worth every penny.
“You may not be able to get to a phone, you may not have internet and no way to arrange for travel out, so we’re here to do that for you. Also, it’s not the first time we’ve been through this situation. So we know how to work it," says Rigsby.
As for Eric and Elisa, their timing couldn't have been more perfect. Despite considering leaving early, they stayed the course in the Dominican Republic. The only storm weather they encountered happened once they arrived at the airport to come back home.
“Yea I guess we got married on the right day. It looked like, just looking back at the news today, there’s a huge band of rain right over where we were, so I think if we had left tomorrow, we would have been probably stuck," they say.