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'We didn't have an opportunity at all': Missouri family stuck in Peru amid travel ban

Evans said she heard the Peruvian border would close about 12 hours before it did

ST. LOUIS — Brooke Evans said it could be weeks before she returns to her husband and two sons in Springfield, Missouri.

"I know I am not getting out before April 1," Evans said. "The government in Peru has closed the border. The gate at our property is closed. No one is allowed in. No one is allowed out."

Hours after Evans, her sister and her mother boarded a plane in San Francisco, with Peru as their final destination, the State Department pushed out a health alert stating that nearly 30 people had been diagnosed with coronavirus in the country. 

"There were no restrictions or travel warnings," Evans said. "At the time, we thought it was a safe bet."

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Evans said her family travels often, so they had read the published information from the CDC and registered with all of the sites that were recommended. She said they were never alerted that traveling to Peru was not a good idea. 

A couple of days into their trip, the three spent a day at Machu Picchu. They didn't have internet access or phone service, and when they returned from the excursion Evans said they went to sleep because it was late. 

"The next morning, I woke up before everyone else and went downstairs to get some coffee," Evans said. "It was literally utter chaos."

Evans said another guest told her that the Peruvian government had announced it would close the border at midnight that night. Evans said there were buses coming to get tour groups that were staying at the resort and that many people, including her, were informed all of their flights had been canceled. 

"We called the U.S. Embassy in Peru and everyone we could think of," Evans said. 

RELATED: State Department warns Americans against all international travel

United Airlines told Evans all of their flights were canceled, they would not receive a refund, only credit and that the next available flight would not be until May.

"It was 9 a.m.," Evans said. "Could I have found out the night before? Sure. But you have to understand all 1,600 of us were trying to get on the same flights."

Additionally, Evans said the resort where they are staying is in the Sacred Valley, which is more than an hour and a half outside of the larger city of Cusco. From there, they would have to catch another flight to get to Lima, if they hoped to fly out of there. Evans said, especially traveling with her mother, they thought it would be safer to stay at the resort. 

"We thought it best to stay where we have food and shelter verses just going to a bigger city where we don't know anything," Evans said. 

On Thursday, the president told reporters he is aware of the hundreds of Americans who are stranded in other countries. While he said the government is working to get them out "probably through the military," Pres. Trump also said the travelers "got caught" and were given time to leave. 

Evans, who said she was informed the Peruvian border would close a little more than 12 hours beforehand, said that is not the case. 

"We didn't have an opportunity at all," Evans said. "To say that we had the opportunity to get out is just wrong. It's just incorrect information."

Meanwhile, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, said he has been in touch with a number of Missourians who are stuck in other countries as well as with the State Department. 

"We need them to act here," Hawley said. "We need them to act quickly, particularly if there are travel restrictions involved."

Evans confirmed she has spoken with Sen. Hawley and other leaders, but she said she is not confident she will get out soon. 

"It's not their fault, but they don't have much more information than we do," Evans said. "We haven't had and still have no information about what is going on."

Evans said she was told by an official they will have to quarantine in the country until at least April 1. In the meantime, she said and her mother and sister feel safe at their resort and have been met with hospitality and nice accommodations. 

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