LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Tropical Storm Cindy is expected to move into Arkansas after it makes landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border, but it has already impacted lots of Arkansans, who thought this would be a good week to go on vacation.
Some of them are riding it out, but others decided they were better off coming home. Julie Harrelson and her family packed up early and returned to Bryant after a visit to Orange Beach, Alabama.
“This was our first family vacation,” she said, “which is kind of tragic!”
Three generations of her family packed into a car and made the drive to Orange Beach at the request of her son.
“We planned on staying until (Thursday),” she said as they drove back home, “but we cut that short when we were woken up (Wednesday) morning to sirens, and it sounded like the building was about to get knocked down! We missed our dolphin tour, and that kind of stuff, but we’re very fortunate to be safe!”
Morgan Garay, from Benton, vacationed with his fiancée and her family in the same complex that Harrelson and her family stayed in, but Garay’s group decided not to leave. He said he got to spend about an hour on the beach when they arrived Monday before the rain began.
“We went out on the beach earlier, and it wasn’t raining quite as hard, and there was a lot of people out there for a little while,” he recalled. “But you can’t stay out there for very much longer. The wind’s so hard that it’s blowing the sand all over you. So, it kinda hurts, kinda stings a little.”
Harrelson said her family went shopping to pass the time. Stephanie Breeding said she went to the Pensacola Lighthouse and watched lots of movies on Netflix. Traci Etheridge and the large group she traveled with played cards and told stories. Since everyone needed indoor activities, Garay said everything in town was busy.
“It’s kinda hard to get in places to eat, because everybody, you know, you can’t get on the beach, so everybody’s out to eat, or doing something, so it’s like an hour and a half wait somewhere,” he stated. “It’s just, traffic’s crazy, it’s pouring down rain. It’s kinda hard to get around.”
Garay said he checked the forecast one week before he left, but did not expect Tropical Storm Cindy to hit Orange Beach as hard as it did. Some areas in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle received up to eight inches of rain from Tuesday to Wednesday, with more expected Wednesday night into Thursday. But even as the rain and wind slammed his condo, he never considered leaving, and both he and Harrelson said they would happily return to the Gulf Coast.
“I would just watch the weather a little bit closer next time,” Garay joked.