Hurricane Irma may not bother the University of Georgia or University Notre Dame football teams when they kick off in South Bend Saturday, but it has thrown a wrench in locals’ plans to travel to the event.
Flights at major airports, including Jacksonville, were canceled in mass numbers or changed to one-way flights Thursday and Friday as airlines plan for the unnavigable weather predicted to grip Florida over the weekend.
Brannen Veal doesn’t consider himself a Georgia or Notre Dame fan, but he still planned to fly up for the weekend to experience a tailgate in South Bend and Notre Dame Stadium, the 87-year-old venue that seats more than 80,000 fans. He already scheduled a flight to Chicago, but will now evacuate Saturday with a mass Golden Isles residents.
“I like Georgia but I’m not a huge fan,” he said. “ [Notre Dame] is a neat place, and I don’t know if I would get the opportunity to see an SEC school play Notre Dame with a bunch of friends.”
Vassa Cate with Palmetto Building Group on St. Simons Island had too much responsibility on his hands to fret about his previous plans to watch the game.
“I’m not disappointed,” he said. “You can’t control Mother Nature. With this storm trying, I’m focused on trying to protect us and make sure people are safe.”
Some were more lucky. Bonney Shuman, of St. Simons Island, had planned an early flight and was staying at her hotel in Chicago Thursday night.
She planned for a “trifecta” of sporting events during her trip — watching the Cubs on Friday, the Bulldogs on Saturday and Flacons and Bears on Sunday. Only now, her plans to return home are in flux.
“I would be shocked if we were going to fly back Monday,” she said. “Some friends took our dogs … we flew on United, and they sent an announcement that they will work with folks on schedule [to return next week].”