SWGA hotels are filling up from Dorian evacuees

Emergency supplies at Valdosta, Thomasville stores selling fast
Published: Sep. 4, 2019 at 10:12 AM EDT
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SOUTHWEST,Ga. (WALB) - A number of hotels across South Georgia are filling up as Florida evacuees flee from Hurricane Dorian.

All major chain hotels in Americus are booked, according to Georgia’s Sumter County Tourism.

Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn Conference and Comfort Suites in Valdosta are completely booked.

Paige Dukes, Lowndes County public information officer, said if people are planning to come to the area, they should have a room secured ahead of time.

Dukes said people should continue to “closely monitor" the weather because South Georgia could see similar conditions to many places in Florida.

The 11 p.m. advisory keeps Hurricane Dorian a very powerful category 2 hurricane. Little chance in intensity is expected...

Posted by Bradford Ambrose Fox 28 on Tuesday, September 3, 2019

County officials said they do welcome evacuees but they caution people to make sure Lowndes County is the best option for them with hotel availability and interstate traffic from Florida.

A Lowes in Valdosta also ran out of generators Wednesday before getting another 192 in. Currently, the store is down to 32 generators. Water is sold out. The store has five gas cans left and weather radios are selling quickly too, managers told WALB.

The Valdosta store also sent 47 generators to the Lowes in Thomasville, many of which are gone.

Emergency shipping is currently in the works, managers said.

With hotels nearly full for the coming days, WALB spoke with hotel management in Tifton about available rooms.

“Tift County has 1,175 hotel rooms in our entire county," Melody Cowart, Williams Hotel Group director of sales, said. “And I would say 85 to 95 percent of them are already taken up.”

Cowart said this is usually their busiest time of year and Florida evacuees are already coming ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

Melody Cowart Director of Sales  for Williams Hotel Group
Melody Cowart Director of Sales for Williams Hotel Group

“We have already started to see our evacuees coming in, our disaster teams, electrical crews and such as that coming in starting tonight," Cowart said.

Ilene White and her husband both are disabled but made the six hour drive from Sebastian, Fla. to Tifton.

White and her husband both traveled alone because she said her children are in another state.

“They are still in Maine so they can’t help us out," White said. “So neighbors helped packed the car.”

Country Inn & Suites and Comfort Inn & Suites
Country Inn & Suites and Comfort Inn & Suites

The drive isn’t something the two aren’t used to.

“We came early because last year when we came for Matthew, it was backed right up, the traffic was. And everywhere we called was filled right up," White said.

Besides leaving her house and personal items, White told WALB about the friends she left behind as well.

Ilene White, Florida resident
Ilene White, Florida resident

“There are three others groups there that aren’t going to leave. One 80-year-old man because he doesn’t have anyone there to go with him and the other two are going to give it a try to see what happens," she recalled.

After a long day on the road, White said she and her husband are tired.

“It is really hard for old people to leave and Florida is filled with old people," White said. “Just say some prayer for us please.”

White and her husband said they will stay until the hurricane slows down, hopefully by Wednesday, but they are prepared for any obstacles life throws their way.

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