Evacuees fill local hotels

Published 2:13 am Thursday, October 11, 2018

There was no room in the proverbial inn this week, as evacuees fleeing Hurricane Michael filled local rooms.

“We are full, and people are steadily walking in off the street looking for rooms,” Holiday Inn Express manager Kim Jenkins said Wednesday morning. “It breaks my heart that we don’t have anymore rooms.”

The Best Western had a sign posted on the door that read “Sold Out,” and still had to turn hopeful people away.

“We have 40 rooms,” Dharmesh Patel said. “Every single one of them are booked.”

Patel said that they were already low on rooms before the hurricane hit, so they were quick to fill up.

“We already had a lot of people staying in our rooms,” Patel said. “So we didn’t have a lot of rooms to give away in the first place.”

Even though hurricane evacuees made up the majority of the residents, Patel said that a lot of people from Kentucky and the east coast were stuck in Andalusia.

“A lot of people from Kentucky are on fall break right now, so they went to the beach,” Patel said. “Now they are coming back through trying to get away from the hurricane and back home.”

Patel expected most of the guests to leave by Friday.

“By then the storm will probably be over,” Patel said. “So they will probably make their way back home.”

Selena Williams, who works at Best Western, said that many of the customers are worried about losing their homes.

“A lot are worried about what they might lose when they go back home,” Williams said. “But many are happy that they were able to find a room.”

The Days Inn, Sunset Inn and Quality Inn were all packed to the brim.

“We have had to turn so many people away from every hotel,” owner Nick Patel said. “Most of the people that we have here are evacuating from Florida.”

Patel said that people who were able to get a room are very happy.

“They just need a place to stay for a couple of days,” Patel said. “We hate to turn them away, but the people who were able to get a room are very happy.”

Though many evacuees were stuck in the hotel all day, some were treated to free food, compliments of Little Caesars.

“We were torn between staying open and closing,” Owner Skip Enzor said. “But when the hurricane hit CAT 4 last night I knew that we had to close for the safety of our workers.”

Enzor said that while he was at the gas station he heard that every hotel was booked.

“I just thought that a lot of these people won’t have anywhere to eat unless they go McDonalds or Huddle house,” Enzor said. “So I usually prep the kitchen when we are closed and I had another manager with me, and I figured this could be a good time to do something good.”

Enzor then delivered several free pizzas to all of the hotels in the city and to first responders as well.

“I think first responders need a lot of appreciation since they are always working during these things to keep us safe,” Enzor said.


“I know that many Andalusians would do the same thing if they had the opportunity. I’m just trying to do what’s good for the community.”