Florida evacuees and their pets fill Coast hotels

Florida evacuees and their pets fill Coast hotels

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - With Hurricane Michael crashing into the Florida panhandle, thousands of people have hit the road and headed west to escape the destruction. Many of them landed right here on the Coast.

At the LaQuinta Hotel in Moss Point, the parking lot is full of cars, most of them with Florida tags. It’s been a busy 24 hours for desk clerk Markeisha Watson.

“We’re actually jam packed. I came in at 11 and get off at 8:30. And I’ve been busy since, taking calls, people coming in and checking out rooms and everything like that,” she explained.

Many of the evacuees, including David Miller, had a hard time finding lodging.

“We actually started our search in Mobile and just kept going west and west and west and, this was the closest that we found but still the furthest west we could get before any kind of ridiculous travel came up,” Miller recalled.

Leaving Florida made sense, after checking their phones and watching TV. Kenneth Murray said the decision was easy.

“The storm surge and 145 mile per hour winds, it was just coming right at us, so I thought it was necessary to leave. I took my mother-in-law, my brother in law and my nephew, a whole bunch of people,” he explained.

Another evacuee, Stephanie Spesak, agreed.

“The water was coming too close to the condo we have on Okaloosa Island, and that’s what I was mostly afraid of. The storm surge,” Spesak said.

Now for the evacuees with animals, finding a pet friendly hotel is a very important thing, simply because, well, they’re family.

That how Julie Sommerhauser feels.

“It’s very important. We were going to have her if we had to stay in the car. We would have done that. She’s a part of our family for about seven years. We love her,” Sommerhauser emphasized.

Leaving others behind is troublesome for these evacuees, including Miller.

“We’re concerned not only for us but some people who actually stayed in our neighborhood, and I hope they’re OK,” Miller said.

What will be left back home after the storm passes leaves emotions raw for Spesak.

“Yeah, I’m worried, very worried. It’s a home and an investment,” she said.

Most of the evacuees say they plan on staying here for the next few days before trying to make it back home to Florida.

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