Atlanta area hotels almost sold out as evacuees escape Hurricane Irma

ATLANTA — Hurricane Irma is not showing any sign of weakening.

In Florida, evacuations are underway. Video we received shows lines of cars leaving the Florida Keys.

At least 150,000 are under mandatory evacuation after it was issued by Florida Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency Wednesday for coastal counties in the state.

Tourists set to travel to areas in the path of Hurricane Irma are faced with changing or cancelling their trips. Here in Georgia, hotels are bracing for a boom in business as residents and travelers evacuate to the peach state.

While many Florida residents head north, Joe Mentrie is headed south back to his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

We caught up with him as he left his hotel in Midtown, after just one night in Atlanta.

“My mother in law, my wife's aunt and uncle upper 80s, and they can't evacuate so we have to go get them,” he said.

Mentrie and his wife came to Georgia for their anniversary, Irma had other plans.

“That's cancelled. 37 years on the 13th, so here we go back home,” he said.

But he's taking more than his suitcases back to south FL -- he's stocking up.

“Actually I'm pretty lucky cause everything down south is sold out so I'm going to pick up water and everything and bring it back,” he said.

His now vacant hotel room will be bought up and quickly. According to one popular travel website 98 percent of metro Atlanta hotels were booked from this weekend into next week.

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Katie Walls discovered that most hotels in the metro are already sold out as many more Floridians are leaving out of caution.

"We have a very busy Labor Day with DragonCon and everything going on. After that it usually slows down, very very slowly, we didn't expect that at all," said Gabriele Webster, the General Manager of Hotel Indigo in Midtown.

Typically this time of year, this hotel would just be 50-60 percent full but instead it's nearly sold out. Hotels like this across the Metro are in high demand, especially those that are pet friendly.

“We have very few rooms available Saturday through Wednesday,” Webster said.

Webster estimates sales will at least double this weekend through midweek as Florida residents flee Irma.

Hotels aren't the only ones preparing for extra visitors. A synagogoue in North Fulton County is working to place people who are dropping everything to escape the storm.

In the synagogue’s kosher kitchen in Sandy Springs, caterer Robin Varon was busy preparing for many more people to feed when Channel 2’s Linda Stouffer visited on Wednesday.

“We have an influx of Florida people coming so we need to prepare for at least another,” Varon said.

Rabbi Isser new's "hospitality for Irma' starts with email updates that appear constantly on his phone from people who need to escape the hurricane in Florida.


The Beth Tefillah Congregation posted a form on their website, so they can better coordinate where families will stay.

“There are moments in time when people need you, who are we if we’re not there when people need us,” Rabbi Isser said. “The Jewish tradition preaches all 613 commandments are equivalent to the commandment Tzedakah, which is charity.”

Observing the Jewish Sabbath means wrapping up evacuation travel by sundown on Friday.

“I can take up to 8, plus I have room for dogs and pets,” said Danielle Seligmann.

Seligmann sees this is a chance to meet new people, and follow through on her faith.

“It’s a huge blessing to help that’s actually what I teach my children. The greatest gift I have is to being light to people and open my arms to help,” she said.

Over the next few days, the congregation will find a way to welcome, whoever needs their help.

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