Miami man inadvertently ends up in Columbus to escape Irma

Javier Lopez went to Miami International Airport looking for a ticket away from Hurricane Irma. He ended up in Columbus. (WSYX/WTTE)

Javier Lopez went to Miami International Airport Wednesday looking for a flight out of South Florida to escape the wrath of Hurricane Irma.

Lopez, 70, has lived in Miami for over twenty years and survived many storms, but when he saw the size of Irma, he decided to get out quick.

The retired Spanish instructor said while most all flights out were sold out, there was one round trip ticket on American Airlines from Miami to Columbus left.

He bought it, and headed to Ohio Thursday night.

It was a place he'd never been, now it feels like a second home.

"I arrived at the airport and I fell in love at first sight," said Lopez.

Lopez was the first person to check into a Hurricane Irma shelter set up by the American Red Cross at Ohio Dominican University.

"I contacted the a American Red Cross and I explained my problems. They received me with open hands, an open heart and open mind, unbelievable," Lopez said.

Lopez has no family in Miami, but has been in touch with loved ones in Bolivia and New Zealand to let them know he's okay.

He has a return flight to Miami on Tuesday.

Lopez said if the flights canceled, or he returns to South Florida to find his home destroyed, he may move to Columbus to look for a home and a job.

"It's my first time in Columbus, thank you Columbus, Ohio very much," Lopez added.

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