Evacuees head to Virginia, hotels on alert for possible influx

Updated: Sep. 8, 2017 at 11:30 PM EDT
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - There are mandatory evacuations in parts of Florida, Georgia and now South Carolina. Many of those evacuees are either passing through or headed to Central Virginia. That was the case for a father and son who stopped in Henrico on Friday.

It's the fear of the unknown coupled with the warning to act that find Floridians fleeing.

With a U-Haul trailer in tow, it would appear Rob Brown is moving.

"Baby pictures, things that are sentimental because we are just preparing for the worst," he said, pointing to a fully loaded truck.

He and his teenage son hit the road Thursday from their home near Coral Springs, Fla.

They're seeking higher ground as Hurricane Irma prepares to make a predicted landfall. After driving all day, they arrived in South Carolina in the middle of the night.

"There were no hotel rooms, so we went to a truck stop, slept for an hour, and finally found a hotel in Florence, S.C.," Brown said.

Meantime in Henrico County, the phones have been ringing all day at the Quality Inn on East Parham Road.

"We've been getting people trying to flee Hurricane Irma and also states like North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia as well," said Andrew Schultz.

The hotel conveniently sits off I-95. So far no evacuees have checked in, but Schultz says they expect that to change over the next couple of days.

That's because even the federal government is reaching out to area hotels trying to identify shelter for those looking to escape the path of the storm.

"We have our inventory open for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and beyond. We've kind of stabilized our prices. We're trying to do the right thing here," he added.

The anticipation of a hurricane brings enough anxiety.

"Thank goodness we got a trailer because everything's selling out. Gas, water," Brown added.

Yet, the idea of being safe brings peace of mind no matter the cost to get out.

"It's been very emotional," Brown said.

FEMA is preparing to offer financial assistance for people who need to evacuate long-term. It is also looking for hotels who have available rooms to register them online. Click here for more information.

Hotels can also register to host evacuees. Click here to register.

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