A YORK mother has told how her family caught the last flight out of Orlando in Florida to escape Hurricane Irma - while relatives were not allowed to fly and remain stranded there.

Tonya O’Hara, of Clifton, said she celebrated her 50th birthday by travelling on a dream holiday to a hotel near Universal Studios.

Tonya travelled with 17 family members and relatives, including her husband, Jason, sons Quinn, five, Regan, 19, Thomas, 22, Dean, 27, and daughters Keisha, 16 and Rachel, 32, plus grandchildren Holly and Callum, and other in-laws.

The first week went well, with visits to Universal Studios and Disneyworld, but as they watched TV coverage of the hurricane wreaking havoc in the Caribbean as it headed for Florida last week, Tonya became scared of what was going to happen and wanted to get home.

She said there was chaos and a total lack of information at the hotel - with one flight out which they had planned to catch being overbooked - but 12 family members eventually caught the last plane out of a deserted Orlando Airport at the weekend.

However, the remaining six, who included two young children, were told there were not enough seats for them and had to stay behind.

Tonya said that when she got on the plane, she found there were many empty seats.

She said the relatives had planned to stay in their room and put a mattress against the door to prevent it blowing open. They had since messaged to say that the storm winds had been frightening, and there had been damage, but they were all safe.

However, their hopes of finally flying back yesterday had been dashed and they remained stranded in the US.

Tonya said she and her family landed at Stansted on Sunday, exhausted and stressed out, three days after first trying to fly home, and with a bill for more than £500 to pay for a minibus home.

She added: “We had been planning for the holiday for a year and saving up for it, but I realise there are people a lot worse off than us, and am thankful we are home and all right.”