Governors Ball on Randall's Island evacuated, canceled due to severe weather

RANDALL'S ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- The Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall's Island was evacuated and subsequently canceled because of severe weather Sunday evening.

The evacuation happened after the festival opened more than six hours late, and acts didn't even start performing until around 6:45 p.m. due to forecasted thunderstorms.

Three hours into the show, organizers tweeted the festival was being evacuated and asked attendees to move to the nearest exits and seek shelter inside the stadium.

The remainder of the event was canceled as a result.

"After close consultation with NYC officials and law enforcement, it was deemed necessary to cancel the event for the safety of our festival goers, artists and crew," organizers said in a statement. "We are as devastated as our fans by this decision, but nothing is more important than the safety of all attendees. While the festival is always rain or shine, we can't proceed in weather as severe as tonight's storm and lightning. Evacuation procedures were followed, and at this time, the island is clear of all guests."

Concertgoers reported a frantic scene as they first sought cover and then attempted to get home in the rain.

"We all ended up under catering tents and were told to stay there, and then told to run over a footbridge and eventually walked 25 blocks into Harlem," Claire Zito said. "Getting us all off the island, telling us to run through the rain, probably wasn't the best idea."

Zito was with a group of friends on the final day of the three-day event when things came to a screeching halt, as crews broke down the main stage where artists like The Strokes and SZA were supposed to perform.

First, there was was the seven-hour rain delay, with folks finally filing in just after 6 p.m. Then, around 9 p.m., there was a warning that two weak systems were approaching.

"Our headliners didn't play," event promoter Tom Russell said. "Within a span of 20 minutes, these cells combined and became much stronger storms and something we had to monitor immediately."

They issued a code red, a first in the 9-year run of the event, meaning tens of thousands of people were told they had to get off the island.

While Russell acknowledges it was challenging, he feels the evacuation plan was executed well.

"We did the very best we could, and we're already working with the operations plan to see how to fine tune," he said. "I think if we can build that trust and prove we did right by them, they'll come back next year and the year after."

Organizers are issuing refunds and posted the following information for Sunday's show:

"All customers who purchased a Sunday ticket and Sunday transportation ticket through the Gov Ball ticketing page will receive a refund directly to the account used to purchase. All customers who purchased a 3-Day Pass and 3-Day Transportation pass directly through the Gov Ball Ticketing page will receive a partial/pro-rated refund directly to the account used to purchase. At this time we expect all refunds to be processed within 21 days.

If the original card used for purchase has expired or been updated, the refund should still be processed through the account used to purchase. No additional action is needed by the original purchaser. If your credit card used for purchase has been canceled or is now expired, the bank or credit card company will normally reroute the credit amount issued to the current account or card for use. Please do not send any credit card or account information via email to info@govball.com.

Only primary ticket purchasers will receive a refund. If you did not purchase your ticket directly through the official Gov Ball website, please contact the person / party you purchased your ticket through.

This process takes time and all parties involved are working incredibly hard to expedite the process to ensure everyone that is entitled to a refund receives it as quickly as possible.

Stay tuned for more information at govball.com/updates."


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