Hurricane Harvey: The last flight out of Corpus Christi

Hurricane Harvey barrels toward Texas

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Caller-Times) -- On most Friday mornings, the airport would be bustling, full of people, groggy as they catch their plane. But as Hurricane Harvey neared the Coastal Bend early Friday morning, there was only one flight out of the city.

A 6:30 a.m. flight on Southwest Airlines was the last flight out of town Friday. People trying to make it out of the city before the storm hit had to say goodbye to loved ones, and some worried about what would remain when they are able to return.

Hurricane Center: Full coverage of Hurricane Harvey and the tropics

"This is our last flight this morning, 6:30 departure, trying to take the folks out to safety so we can get on to safety ourselves," said Southwest Airlines Supervisor Abel Tamez, adding that several employees have already evacuated. Others are going to stay and ride it out.

Late Friday morning, the airport announced while it is not closed, Southwest and United Airlines have no scheduled flights until Monday, and American Airlines is hoping to resume operations Saturday.

Among those who bid farewell Friday morning was General Surgeon Michael Reyes, who said he works with the Corpus Christi Medical Center as well as Christus Spohn South and Shoreline. Reyes had to stay behind to work, sending his wife Sara and daughter Eva out of town on the flight with other family members.

"A lot of prayers going up to make sure my family gets out of here and they land safely in Dallas, make their connections," Reyes said. "It's rough. My wife and I have already cried, but we'll do whatever we've got to do. We know what we have to do. It's just a means to an end."

Reyes will remain in Corpus Christi for backup "whether or not the infrastructure is there," in case he needs to get to a hospital and operate. 

An employee with the airlines said she'd noticed a good amount of elderly people, many of whom needed wheelchairs to get on the plane, boarding the flight, as well as some with babies.

Donna Hale, 81, was there getting dropped off by her daughter to leave the city and head to Phoenix. The trip was already planned, but she moved up her flight to get out of town before Harvey hits. Many of her other children and grandchildren have already left, and are headed to the hill country. 

"I hate to leave when things are in such an uproar, but it's alright," said Hale, who has lived in Corpus Christi since 1960.

She's been through a hurricane here before. During Hurricane Celia in 1970, Hale stayed at her house with her seven children. Her husband was a police officer and had to work through the storm.

Hale said she and her mother-in-law watched the roof come off of the apartments behind her house.

"If you lived through Celia, you're scared of the rest of them, believe me."

Hale still lives at that same residence. She said she's worried about her home this time around, and hates to leave it. 

Lewis Thorp, 41, had to say goodbye to his daughter who also pushed up a trip to get out of town. Thorp, an assistant security officer at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, said his daughter Lelia, who recently graduated high school, was supposed to leave for a celebratory cruise in the morning with a friend. His wife had already left town, while he plans to stay at the base.

"Have a great time, I'm glad you won't be here to see everything," Thorp said as a message to his daughter. "Hopefully by the time you're back, most of it will be cleaned up and we'll all still be here."

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