OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - "It was just, it's a sad situation," said David Despot, an employee at the Roost Hotel in Ocean Springs.
The Roost is just a six-room inn, but Despot still wanted to do more for the evacuees.
"It was frustrating that we were not able to help them, so I certainly advised perhaps another property in Ocean Springs that's larger than we," said Despot.
One of those larger properties was the Travelodge off Hwy. 90. Once the word got out about the vacancies, they were booked solid in just a few hours, too.
"Pretty much all of our rooms were available up until Thursday night. Come Thursday night, we are completely sold out by Thursday," said Denise Eck.
Eck, the general manager of the Travelodge, said she's never experienced a hurricane herself, but realizes the powerful impact a storm like Irma can have. That's why lifting her guest's spirits is a mission she wants to accomplish. All of the people staying at the hotel are evacuees from Florida.
"They're going to be family for the next four to five days, if not longer. Just a one-on-one personal basis, talk to them, get to know them, make them feel a little more at home and not think about the hurricane that's about to strike their houses," said Eck.
After an influx of telephone calls from people desperately seeking shelter, Eck and her staff came up with the idea to treat all of the guests to a free cookout Saturday evening to help get them out of a down and worried mood.
Teron Armstrong and his family came all the way from Miami, FL. After spending hours looking for somewhere to rest and wait it out, he was relieved to find this place.
"I was looking online, I did online, and Travelocity had them as one of the only places that had rooms left, so I was like, 'Hey, I don't care. It was a room and we have a roof over our heads. Let's do it.' It was a good price too, so I took it," said Armstrong.
For now, he's just thankful that his family can be safe.
"Each moment we were driving, we were thanking God that we got a place."
Many of the evacuees who didn't find a room on the Gulf Coast went as far west as Louisiana for shelter.