CHICAGO (CBS) – Travelers scrambled Thursday to get early flights out of Orlando to avoid the storm.

One of those people was a Chicago woman who was in a nursing conference, along with 10,000 others, that had been canceled, CBS 2’s Sandra Torres reports.

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“I’m so glad I’m home,” said Geri Martinak.

Geri and Steve Martinak were lucky enough Thursday to get on an early flight home to Chicago.

“We were in Orlando visiting relatives,” Martinak said. “Had a 5 p.m. flight.”

But once they heard Orlando’s airport was going to close down ahead of Hurricane Matthew, their plans changed.

“We were getting scared, went to the airport early, could not go online,” Martinak said. “Put ourselves on a list of 50 people ahead to leave early.”

Joanne Lemke was another person who made it on one of the last flights out.

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“Tuesday night we talked about getting an earlier flight,” Lemke said. “We did not want to get stuck in Orlando.”

Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to Judy Castello and her husband.

“Not quite the vacation we anticipated,” Castello said.

The Lake Zurich couple is stuck in a Fort Lauderdale hotel. Their vacation with a picturesque ocean view from Wednesday, is slowly turning dark.

“It’s very windy, it’s raining on and off, waves are getting bigger,” Castello said. “There are about 80 people left in the hotel, not including staff. Basically, everything is closed.”

Although travel towards the coastal areas is discouraged, local volunteers from the American Red Cross are preparing to go regardless.

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The local Red Cross plans on sending Saturday more local volunteers to Florida.