Gatlinburg hotels welcome Irma evacuees

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Hotel rooms in Gatlinburg are starting to fill up as it becomes a refuge for hurricane evacuees coming from Florida and the Southeast.

Some hotels are expecting their first guests as soon as Wednesday evening.

Jessica Webb with the Hilton Garden Inn said the phones haven’t stopped ringing since the morning.

“Sometimes it is to be away from the home or they’ve had reservations and vacations planned at the beach so they want to find an alternative destination,” she said.

She said the influx isn’t uncommon for Gatlinburg when storms slam the East Coast. If there is a high need, she said the hotel will make sure to find accommodations for the guests if they are escaping the storm.

Billy Shults at Old Creek Lodge was already feeling the high demand. He made at least five reservations since the morning.

“They are proud to help people and they make effort to help people,” said Shults.

Shults said they have a discount they’re offering to anyone with a Florida ID. Unfortunately, he said it’s been difficult for some to find a room because many visitors are in town for a popular event called Rod Run.

“I imagine everybody in town is already at 100 percent occupancy for the most part,” he said.

Both hotels are happy to be that refuge as many people escape the havoc that’s expected to follow Irma.

“You want to be that good memory for people that are experiencing any type of loss,” said Webb.

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