Ursula Raphael and her daughter have family in the Chicago area. Because of Hurricane Ike, they decided to pay them an early visit. Lucky for them, their flight was the last one out. Continental Airlines suspended all flights out of its Houston hub until Sunday.
"I was planning to come here to go to the Notre Dame-Michigan game, then he found out about the storm, and my mother lives with me, so I got her a ticket and packed her along as well to get away from the storm," said John Kaldy, Houston resident.
Houston residents arriving at O'Hare Friday afternoon said they are lucky they were able to leave.
"Trying to get out is a nightmare. Trying to get out on (Interstate) 45 north toward Dallas, some are sitting there for hours, not moving...and it is pretty sad," said Cary Berger, Houston resident.
Hurricane Ike is also creating a sad situation for thousands of motorists in parts of the country. Some oil refineries in Texas are shutting down until the storm passes, and that means gas prices are going up in parts of the Midwest: $4.39 for a gallon of regular unleaded at the BP station at Wabash and Roosevelt.
"It's pretty rough, that's why I'm only putting in a little bit, and I'll wait 'til I get to the suburbs," said Rich Stearns.
He might not have better luck outside Chicago. For example, regular unleaded at a gas station in Calumet Park was $4.09 Friday. On Wednesday it was $4.05. A station in Hammond, Indiana, sold regular unleaded for $4.09 Friday. It was $4.05 Wednesday. And a gas station in Deerfield: Friday, it's $4.09; on Wednesday, it was $3.96.
"That's the cost of doing business, you have to go where you have to go," said Michael Scott.
The Gulf Coast produces more than seven million barrels of refined oil each day, 42 percent of the nation's capacity. Prices could go up more this weekend depending on how much damage there is to the refineries or to the oil derricks in the Gulf.