Clovis family stranded in Houston after cruise is canceled
A Clovis family is now stranded in Houston, as a result of Tropical Storm Harvey.
"We had no idea that a storm that hasn't happened in ten years would happen this weekend," says Rebecca Simonian.
Simonian, her husband and two of their children had planned to go on a cruise this weekend.
The trip was planned since April of 2016.
Simonian had been keeping up with news about Hurricane Harvey-- and had concerns about how this would affect her family's departure from Texas.
"I called asked if we could change it and leave from Florida. But I was told the cruise hadn't been canceled, so we couldn't do that," she says.
So the family left Fresno Saturday, and arrived in Houston.
It planned to board Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas Sunday.
Despite the weather conditions, the cruise line insisted in a series of messages that the trip would go on as planned.
But soon after the family started to drive to Texas City-- and later Galveston-- the cruise was canceled.
"We were on the roads for two hours trying to make our way and find our way to safety," Simonian says.
Others going on the cruise weren't as lucky.
They were already on site and wound up stranded.
"Their vehicles are under water, their luggage is gone and they have no way to get to the airport," Simonian says.
After a series of wrong turns -- thanks to GPS-- the family found itself near Bush International Airport in Houston and surrounding hotels.
The family tried four hotels.
All of them were booked with pilots and flight staff, stranded travelers and evacuees, including seniors from a nearby facility.
The fifth time was the charm, but came only after Simonian's husband came to the rescue of a hotel worker.
"She had been stranded in the elevator for over an hour," Simonian says. Her husband and another man helped free the woman. Simonian thinks this is what helped them get a room at the hotel, after waiting four hours in the lobby.
"We got a single bedroom with a couch for the four of us. We are on the second floor, no risk of flooding. It was a dry, comfortable room," she says.
Their hotel is in the Northeast part of Houston, and was spared much of the major flooding.
"We can't venture a block or two before we hit flooding," Simonian says.
Her family is making the most of the situation by spending the time playing cards and watching TV.
She knows her family is fortunate to be safe -- indoors, with running water and electricity.
"It's so difficult to watch," she says. "It's so heartbreaking. That's why I'm so thankful. This isn't where we intended to be right now. But we are extremely blessed. I pray for everyone stuck in all of that."
The Simonians have been told by United Airlines their best hope of returning to the Central Valley will be Friday -- unless it can get to Austin.
Flights have been canceled at Bush International through Thursday.
Rebecca Simonian says another option would be going to her sister's home in Dallas, but she is being told the roads are not safe.
Royal Caribbean is refunding the cost of the cruise and is offering customers a discount on a future purchase.
But it is not reimbursing families the cost of re-booking flights, rental cars, hotel rooms and meals.