Michael D. Crump
(Fort Mill, S.C.) – As Hurricane Florence made its way through the Carolinas last week, hotels in the greater Charlotte area were busy making preparations to accommodate people displaced from coastal areas.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 1 million people were under mandatory-evacuation orders.
“We have certainly received a lot of calls from evacuees from South Carolina and North Carolina looking to come inland,” said Stephen Moore, general manager of the Hampton Inn and Suites in Fort Mill.
Tiffany Simpson, manager of the Holiday Inn and Suites in Fort Mill, said she and her staff were surprised by the number of people the storm brought to the hotel.
“It has been extremely busy,” she said. “A lot of people are coming in with their bottles of water, their children, their dogs. It is a lot.”
Simpson said although the hotel was crowded, they were not forced to turn anyone away or raise prices.
Moore said his hotel hosted a number of utility workers from Florida after TECO Energy, based in Tampa, partnered with Duke Energy to provide 250 workers to assist with outages in the Carolinas.
TECO stationed a number of power trucks, supplies and off-road rescue vehicles in the parking lot of the Hampton Inn.
While the storm brought many people to hotels the region, Moore said, it also kept others away.
“We’ve received cancelations from people who are not going to come into the area due to the storm,” he said.
Regardless, he said, they were busy making preparations for the arrival of Florence.
“We are stocked up on supplies such as dry goods in case we lose power and don’t have access to the ovens,” said Moore, prior to the storm’s arrival. “We also have cases and cases of water set aside.”
Moore said the hotel had also taken precautions outside the hotel as he was “mindful of high winds and the potential for (heavy) rain.”
Those precautions included draining the pool, trimming trees and bushes, and creating emergency room keys should the building lose power.