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Storm evacuees fill Greenville hotels


By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Friday, September 14, 2018

Hurricane Florence has filled hotels in Greenville with evacuees from as far away as Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, New Bern and Jacksonville in addition to Pitt County residents seeking shelter from the storm, managers said Thursday.

Some of the hotels have been booked since Sunday and many are not expecting vacancies until next week. The Greenville-Pitt County Convention and Visitors Bureau has set up a webpage with up to date hotel vacancy information to help people seeking a room. That can be found at visitgreenvillenc.com/hurricane-florence/

More than 100 evacuees have been staying at the East Carolina Inn on Stantonsburg Road near Vidant Medical Center since Monday, and hotel manager Kevin Patel said the phone has been ringing off the hook.

“It seems like we're getting calls every 10 seconds and the calls keep coming,” Patel said. Staffing has been an issue with some employees not wanting to work because of the storm. Patel said the hotel operations are holding up well despite the labor shortage.

“I don't think it's going to be that bad here, and we've even had some guests check out early and head back home toward coastal areas,” Patel said.

Some hospital employees also are staying at the hotel to work their normal shifts, he said. “These people still have to go to work and we'll do our best to accommodate them like we do with all of our guests,” Patel said.

At America's Best Value Inn, 810 S. Memorial Drive, all 46 rooms have been booked since Tuesday and half of the guests are from out of town. “All of our rooms have people evacuating from Hurricane Florence,” manager Micky Patel said.

The Microtel Inn, 450 Moye Blvd., and other hotels also have purchased supplies to get ready for the hurricane.

“We bought generators, water, flashlights, and candles just in case power goes out,” clerk Alexis Savage said “Many of our guests have requested to be on the second and third floor, just in case we have any flooding,” Savage said.

Microtel also has been booked since Wednesday, and Savage said and the hotel expects to be full through Sunday.

Hilton and Choice Hotels in the Greenville area have been full since Sunday, according to a joint statement. They have opened up their conference areas to accommodate overflow if needed.

The Wingate Hotel, 3212 S. Memorial Drive, is housing many of its staff in addition to evacuees.

“We've actually had staff to call out because they had to evacuate, and for those who have evacuated, they are basically staying at the hotel for the time being,” manager Sherronda Sims said.

Sims said that several evacuees have small children and that the hotel has rolled out cribs and high chairs.

“We've had a lot of people trying to get settled in, and for ones that have babies and small infants, we've put cribs in the room and high chairs in our breakfast area,” Sims said.

Families have come from surrounding counties including Craven, Onslow, and New Hanover, and with the consistent demand, additional rooms are being made available.

“We had a few rooms out of order and fixed them up to accommodate additional guests,” Sims said.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566.  Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR