It's a good time to be a hotel owner - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

It's a good time to be a hotel owner

Doris DeJong Doris DeJong
The Hartig family is on the run from another hurricane. The Hartig family is on the run from another hurricane.
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September 10, 2004

Albany-- South Georgia hotels are booking up quicker this time with Florida evacuees. Floridians are emotionally drained and still without power so they've hit the road for a place to stay. But hotel reservations are going fast.

It's de-ja-vu. Florida tags back in Albany hotel parking lots. First Hurricane Charley, then Frances, and now Ivan the terrible, making a terrible month for Floridians.

Some are crossing the Florida/Georgia line for the first time, others haven't even left.

Patty Hartig and her family once again hit the road. "We're exhausted, we're just absolutely exhausted," she said.

Exhausted from running from the third hurricane in a month. "We got hit by Hurricane Frances and the power is still out, we just needed to go," said evacuee Doris DeJong. "It's scary."

Florida families buckling in for the worst and heading to Georgia. Doris DeJong has been so scared she hasn't been to her Florida home in a week. "Living in the Best Western hotel in Albany and y'all have a marvelous town."

The Chamber of Commerce in Albany is getting flooded with long distance calls from Florida. "Constantly, it started yesterday, it started yesterday," said Ametra Berry. "'The Quality Inns are full, sir,'" she says to a phone caller.

Hotel rooms disappearing today as evacuees worry about tomorrow. "We just don't know when we are going to get home," says DeJong.

"I never thought I was the kind of person that would crack, I'm the get it done girl, but we've cracked emotionally and there's nothing left," said Hartig.

Floridians are fed up, tired and emotional drained. So much so, that at least four evacuees have asked the Chamber of Commerce in Albany for relocation packets, looking to move here.

We noticed with Frances that a lot of evacuees brought their pets along, are there places for them to stay? Most hotels here in Albany are making an exception and allowing pets to check in. I saw one family with a hamster too.

And Plantation owners are usually open minded when it comes to allowing animals. Most hotel reservations in Albany are booked from Monday to Wednesday or Thursday, but of course that could change, depending on Hurricane Ivan's path.

Hotels in Valdosta are filling up with evacuees, too. Most hotels still have a few reservations left tonight, but expect to be full through the weekend and much of next week.

Northbound traffic on Interstate 75 is slowly growing more and more crowded. For many of the evacuees, it will be their third time evacuating in one month.

"We are already booked tonight, we're gonna be booked up until Tuesday unless the course of the hurricane changes," said Sleep Inn Manager Rhonda Miller.

The Department of Transportation has suspended all construction along I-75 northbound and southbound until further notice.

GEMA is expecting up to 4 and a half million evacuees and is considering making all lanes of I-75 northbound is traffic becomes too congested. That decision would probably be made on Sunday.

posted at 4:45PM by dave.miller@walb.com