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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 13, 201805:10 AM EST

Hurricane Florence evacuees booking rooms in Jacksonville

As the storm heads toward the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia more than 1 million need someplace to go.
by: Scott Sailer Staff Writer

Some Hurricane Florence evacuees from the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia looking for a safe place to weather the storm are making their way to Northeast Florida.

They not only are booking rooms, they are buying supplies for their return home.

Yaser Hasan, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Jacksonville at Interstate 295, said Wednesday morning the hotel is fully booked through Saturday and inquiries continue from evacuees about room availability.

Hasan said the evacuees present special circumstances because they may not be seasoned travelers and might need extra attention.

The hotel typically does not allow pets but will take them in from evacuees at no charge.

The hotel also deals with insurance companies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to accommodate people displaced from their homes because of the storm.

Fred Pozin, general manager of the Ramada by Wyndham Jacksonville Hotel & Conference Center in Mandarin, said the hotel experienced a large jump in reservations Monday.

He said the hotel is booked Wednesday through Saturday, with reservations changing as the storm track is updated.

The influx of North Carolina evacuees started Tuesday, he said.

“As the evacuation zones change you get cancellations and new bookings,” he said.

Pozin said the hotel is pet-friendly and there have been a lot of requests for water bowls for dogs.

He said guests are glued to The Weather Channel.

In another economic impact in Jacksonville, Pozin said guests are stocking up on supplies and groceries because they know supplies will be limited upon their return home.

At another hotel, a manager who asked not to be identified said there has been a pickup in business since Monday, with the hotel selling more than 30 rooms a day for guest arrival Wednesday and departure Friday.

Those visitors are in addition to the hotel’s booking of a tour and a volleyball team for the weekend.

Laurie Kopstad, Visit Jacksonville research, reporting and analytics manager, said she has heard from hoteliers seeing increases in reservations, especially from South Carolina.

North and South Carolina and Virginia officials ordered the evacuation of more than 1.5 million people as Florence headed to those coastlines with an expected landfall Friday.

The storm is predicted to linger over the weekend.


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