ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. - Hundreds of evacuees from North and South Carolina are in Atlanta as Hurricane Florence pummels the coast.
Channel 2's Tyisha Fernandes was in Rockdale County where hotels were booked up for the weekend. Most of the license plates in the parking lot are from out of town.
Fernandes talked with evacuees about what they are hearing from back home. Some people's loved ones chose to stay and ride out the storm.
Courtney Cromer and her daughter Olivia live in Wilmington, North Carolina. Cromer used to work for emergency services in North Carolina, so she called her old boss for advice.
"He said leave! I want you to leave with Olivia and I want you to be safe,"Cromer said. "He said this is a different kind of storm."
They chose a hotel in Conyers because that was one of the only places that had rooms left. She's been keeping close tabs on what is happening back home.
"I’ve spoken to some folks back home and we’ve had some structural damage, we’ve had some water damage," Cromer said. "In my neighborhood specifically, fences have been ripped out, storm glass from porches have been destroyed, trees are down."
Before they left Wilmington, Cromer grabbed some of her most prized possessions and put them in her trunk. Her mother's wedding album was one of them.
"We’re just praying for everyone back home and grateful to be in a safe place and so welcomed by everyone here in GA," Cromer said.
Fernandes spoke to other evacuees who had neighbors who weren't so lucky. Some said their friends couldn't afford to leave.
"Some of my friends live in trailers and stuff so I’m kinda scared," Kristina Ryan, who lives in Surfside, SC, told Fernandes.
Ryan is staying at the Hampton Inn in Conyers, where she and her family decided to stay a few days while Hurricane Florence barreled through their hometown.
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She's been checking in with friends using Facetime.
Fernandes asked her why some of her friends chose to stay when officials warned them it would be a huge risk.
"Some of my friends said they were going to stay because they said it might end up just like Matthew and there was no point in leaving during Matthew because there wasn't much damage," Ryan said.
Another family Fernandes spoke too evacuated from New Bern, North Carolina.
They said watching what is happening in their community hurts.
"Half of the city is pretty much underwater already," Sabrina Bryant said. "I have friends that I consider family who are still there and they’re pretty much trapped up there and trying to figure out how to get out."
For the most part, evacuees were happy to be safe and determined to rebuild.
"We’re blessed that we are together," Cromer said. "Things are just things and we can pick up and start over if we need to. We’re NC strong. We’re Wilmington strong. We’ll get through it."
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