Florence brings evacuees to Madison

Tia Lynn Ivey News

Hurricane Florence, a 500-mile-wide storm that ravaged the shores of the Carolinas last week, bypassed Georgia but prompted thousands affected to flee their homes to avoid the dangerous storm. At least a couple hundred of those evacuees landed in Madison, filling up the local hotels and lodging facilities.

According to local hoteliers, people fleeing Florence booked up nearly all of the available lodging facilities in town last week.

Some establishments, such as the James Madison Inn and the Brady Inn only had only a few rooms to offer evacuees because of a large wedding party that took up most of the available rooms.

“We had a lot of calls, but only had two rooms available during the storm,” said a rep from the James Madison Inn.

However, the Red Roof Inn was booked to capacity all week, with the majority of guests being Hurricane Florence evacuees.

“I would say 95 percent of the people that week were evacuees,” said Susi Stewart, front desk operator for the Red Roof Inn, who noted the motel has 56 rooms on site. “We were full and when we couldn’t take anymore, we worked with other hotels and motels in the area to find people rooms,” said Stewart.

The Holiday Inn Express estimated at least 50 evacuees checked in last week.

According to Sarah Beth Collins, marketing coordinator for the Madison-Morgan Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), Madison served as the silver lining in Florence’s ominous cloud. She noted many evacuees came to the Welcome Center to pick up guides and tips while exploring Madison.

“Almost all of our hotels and motels were booked solid,” said Collins. “We had so many people come in the Welcome Center saying how glad they were to have found this place–that even though the storm is what made them leave, that it was like an unexpected vacation being here. That speaks volumes of Madison.”

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