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Hurricane Irma: Flying into Miami, Florida, as a journalist when the message is 'get out'

By North America correspondent Conor Duffy, Saturday September 9, 2017 - 23:35 EST

Most journalists know the feeling of heading somewhere other people are racing from and today ABC cameraman Bradley Fulton and I had our turn getting into Miami.

Many flights into Miami had been cancelled — colleagues at other networks had a frustrating night boarding planes only to be kicked out.

More than as Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, advanced after wreaking havoc across the Caribbean.

The hurricane was forecast to hit the state as a category four storm, bringing with it winds of 258 kilometres per hour.

So we were fretting, not about leaving Miami, but about whether we could get in.

Luckily our flight was on time and, unusually for an American flight, not overcrowded.

In fact there was as much room as you wanted.

Obstacle one completed.

When we touched down we had a message from our hire car company that they would soon be closing up for the storm.

The gear seemed to take forever to unload but eventually we headed over to the far airport terminal to collect it.

Obstacle two down.

Next we had to get supplies.

The queues were long but we were able to get more than enough water and food.

There was a run on most things but the Fosters remained unloved despite being marked down.

Loaded up we went to make sure our accommodation was safe.

Finally it was time to try and find some stories and set up for a live cross.

We headed for South Beach.

Most of the businesses were boarded up, but at the famous muscle beach bodybuilders were getting in a last work out.

Incredibly there was an Australian among the 10 or so hardcore muscle devotees getting in a last workout — model and actor Calum Winsor from Sydney who said he was well prepared.

"I've got enough food for about two or three weeks, same thing with water," he said.

"Most of my friends all live in a similar building … and we're going to all band together and if one of our windows blows out run up to the other apartment."

And unlike much of this state of more than 20 million people, Calum was not too worried.

"I think with where I am it's pretty good. I feel like its worse for the people who are leaving, stuck in a car, in traffic running out of gas on the highways," he said.

Much sterner tests await for Miami though, and as day turned to night with it came the realisation that might be the last sunshine people here see for some time to come.


© ABC 2017

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