Florid­i­ans flock to New­ton County to es­cape Irma

The Covington News - - LOCAL - DAR­RYL WELCH dwelch@cov­news.com

As Hur­ri­cane Irma con­tin­ues bar­rel­ing to­ward the Florida coast at speeds in ex­cess of 180 MPH, park­ing lots at Cov­ing­ton ho­tels have be­gun to fill with cars with Florida tags as Florid­i­ans seek to es­cape the storm’s wrath.

Juan, from Naples on the south­west coast of the sun­shine state, said he and his family were on the road for 23 hours be­fore ar­riv­ing at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites on the Ac­cess Road.

“We left at 6 yesterday (Thurs­day) morn­ing and got here at 3 this morn­ing,” he said.

Ho­tel Gen­eral Man­ager Leana White said her ho­tel is sold out Fri­day, Satur­day and Sun­day. She said they were prepared for this year’s storm af­ter Hur­ri­cane Matthew last year.

“Once the Florida gov­er­nor de­clared a State of Emer­gency, we started putting our hur­ri­cane plan into ef­fect,” she said.

White said the ho­tel’s hur­ri­cane plan in­cludes or­der­ing ex­tra food and bring­ing on ad­di­tional staff to han­dle ex­tra ho­tel guests.

At the Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press on Paras Drive, Gen­eral Man­ager Ray Pa­tel said peo­ple have been driv­ing all night to get to his ho­tel. Pa­tel said the Hol­i­day Inn is al­low­ing pets with no fee and can­cel­la­tions are open with no re­stric­tions dur­ing the evac­u­a­tion.

At the Hamp­ton Inn on Lochridge Boule­vard, em­ployee Steve Martin said the ho­tel is sold out through Tues­day with guests from Florida and Sa­van­nah. He said the chain’s Cony­ers ho­tel is also sold out.

Dar­ryl Welch | The Cov­ing­ton News Juan evac­u­ated Florida and found him­self at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites in Cov­ing­ton.

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