Relaxing cruise replaced with wrecking hurricane

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Mickey and Daryl France were scheduled to take a cruise on August 27, leaving from the port of Galveston, Texas. A few days before leaving, they heard a storm was brewing. They checked with their travel agent who told them the cruise line said the trip was a go. If they cancelled they would lose their money.

Being the intrepid travelers that they are, the Frances continued with their plans. When they arrived at the hotel in Houson, they were notified that the hotel was working with a skeleton staff because of the hurricane. “The bar area had water pouring through a pendant light which was being collected into a bucket. Other parts of the roof in the bar were also leaking,” said Daryl.

On Monday, the Frances were informed that the cruise was canceled. At least they would get their money back, but now they had to try and get back home. They booked a reservation for Tuesday, but it was canceled due to the hurricane. In all, the Frances had to change their flight four times.

Meanwhile, the hotel continued to fill up with other stranded people. “One group from the Denver area was heading to Cozumel to celebrate an anniversary. They were determined that a little thing like a hurricane was not going to stop them from having fun. They would sit outside, under the overhang and smoke and drink beer,” said Daryl. “To give you a hint, one woman’s nickname was ‘Train Wreck.’ They were great to talk to and very friendly.”

On Monday, the Denver group asked Mickey and Daryl to go with them on a beer run. “That’s when the reality hit,” said Daryl. “Cars and trucks lined the sides of the streets and semi trucks were stranded in the water. It was pouring rain.”

The trip went from bad to worse. Daryl said, “On Tuesday, Mickey went to the lobby for breakfast and they were out of food. There had been about 15 people sleeping in the lobby and the food was gone. That’s when we took all the snacks we had and lined them up to see how long they would last. We also filled the bathtub in case the water got shut off or the water supply got contaminated. The rain was heavy and the wind was blowing everything sideways.”

The Hot Biscuit Diner next to the hotel still had food, so that’s where the couple headed. They arrived at the diner only to find the doors locked and a limited staff of one waitress and one cook. Fortunately, the couple arrived before the diner opened and were let in. “There were six police officers inside who were preparing to go out and look for a fellow officer who wasn’t answering his phone. Tragically, the officer st his life,” said Daryl.

The diner was one of the only restaurant around and one of the few places open with food. “People were coming from everywhere to eat. Food was low and staff was limited,” said Mickey. That’s when the Frances stepped in to help. Daryl bussed table and served coffee while Mickey monitored the door and the number of people coming through it.

“Everything was flooded around us and they are running out of food,” said Mickey. “We didn’t know what everyone was going to do once the food was gone. We saved a few candy bars and other snacks in case it did run out.”

Back at the hotel, Mickey and Daryl had a room on the second floor, which was reassuring. “There was a drain right outside and as long as that drain kept working, I was reassured,” said Daryl. “The skeleton staff at the hotel did a remarkable job. Everyone was in good spirits, no one panicked, partially because we were on higher ground, partially because everyone was in a mess together. ‘Train Wreck’ and her crew partied their way back to Denver when the roads opened on Wednesday.”

The rest of their trip was a waiting game to get out. “Like the rest of the country, we sat in front of the television and watched the horrible events unfold,” said Daryl.

The couple was able to fly home on Thursday when the airport re-opened. Mickey said, “The situation in Houston was very bad but the people were all so kind. We saw many acts of kindness during our stay there. It’s really touching.”

Though the relaxing cruise the Frances envisioned didn’t happen, this is one trip they said they will never forget. “We’re grateful to be home, back in the bubble of Canyon Lake,” said Daryl.

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