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Hotels Booked Up as Far as New Orleans as Evacuees Flee Irma’s Path

September 8th, 2017 by Jake Stofan

As hurricane Irma approaches more and more Floridians are taking to the interstate to seek refuge out of the storms path.

Exhausted travelers are running into another obstacle, finding hotels with openings.

This endless line of traffic headed west on I-10 is moving ten miles an hour or less, evacuees seeking safety out of the path of Hurricane Irma. Alexander Ortega traveled all night from Homestead.

“There’s going to be no electricity, so we have to take off because of the children, that’s the most important thing,” said Ortega.

But asylum seekers are finding hotels completely booked from Tallahassee as far west as Pensacola, into Alabama and beyond.

“I actually looked online at at least one hundred different places and they were all unavailable. Unavailable, unavailable, unavailable,” said Port St. Lucy evacuee Tabitha Dampier.
“It’s wiped out. All the hotels and motels. They’re all gone, and you see signs on the doors that they’re full,” said Bradenton evacuee Stuart Haw.

Darcy Bessette pulled off I-10 after a 12 hour trip from Bradenton.

“From Tallahassee to New Orleans, it’s booked up,” said Bessette.

With no rooms available, Alexander’s family is stuck setting up camp at this rest area while they search for shelter.

“So that’s why we stopped here, we don’t want to continue, we just- we just don’t know where to go. Whether it could go west, east, or straight up north, until we figure out where we’re going to book the hotel, then we’ll take off,” said Ortega.

Some evacuees say traffic has been so bad, drive times have nearly tripled.

Motorists told us of drive times as long as 12 hours from Orlando to Tallahassee and as long as 24 hours from Miami.

“Traffic was stop and go, stop and go. Bumper to bumper,” said Bessette.

Even those lucky enough to find openings in cities like Tallahassee aren’t completely off the hook, with Irma’s path changing, some may find they’ve evacuated directly into the storms path.

The state of Alabama has put out a list of hotel vacancies in the state to help evacuees. The list can be found at www.alabama.travel.

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