Gulfport Family Leaves Cancun In Nick Of Time

Ferrell Alman spent Monday planning his clothing store's expansion, and recounting his family's good fortune.

"Relieved. Big time," the clothier said. "Just glad to be getting back to the good old USA, and out of the path of that storm."

Until the weekend started, the Almans' were vacationing in Cancun. And then, the Gulfport family got word that Hurricane Emily was barreling toward them at speeds that would send most Mississippians running for cover. The Almans started packing for home.

"Being born and raised on the coast, being through so many hurricanes, you just have that built inside you," Alman said. "That alarm inside you tells you to get ready, a storm is coming."

Yet on the streets of Cancun, Alman didn't see many people taking the necessary precautions for a storm that packed 135 mph winds.

"Gosh, those people that were there that didn't know what to expect, you almost wanted to go shouting through the streets, 'Prepare, the storm is coming. You all better get out of here,'" he said.

The Almans decided to cut their trip a day short and return home to Gulfport. But with so many tourists doing the same thing, finding a flight out of Cancun and away from Emily's fury wasn't easy.

Alman's cell phone didn't work in Cancun. So he used phone cards to reach his travel agent.

"He called on Friday afternoon, and wanted out," Louise Bell remembered.

A thousand miles away, in a travel agency building still boarded up from Gulfport's last hurricane threat, Bell went to work.

"You know you just have to look around and be persistent," Bell said. "I got on the phone and started calling around. Finally found three seats to come out on Aero Mexico."

Those seats went to Alman's wife and two children. He took a separate flight that arrived in Gulfport right before the category four hurricane slammed into the Yucatan.

Alman said the scene at the Cancun airport was organized chaos.

"It was all very orderly, but it was just a mass of people trying to get out," he said.

The Almans got out just in time. They missed a day of their vacation. But they had a story that would last a lifetime.

It was "memorable, that's for sure," said Alman.