Sevier County prepares for influx of Hurricane Irma evacuees

With Hurricane Irma threatening Florida and Carolinas, Sevier Co. hotels say people who are evacuating are heading to our area

GATLINBURG - Here in East Tennessee, communities are preparing to welcome Hurricane Irma evacuees.

In Sevier County, hotel phones are already ringing off the hook. 

The calls have been coming in all day, and the Rocky Waters Motor Inn in downtown Gatlinburg is ready.

"Our front desk agents were saying hey we've been makings calls for people who are looking for rooms in this area," said owner Mahavir Patel.

Nearly 40 calls in just before noon--all Hurricane Irma evacuees looking for a temporary home.

"We felt that we would help back and give back, like people have been giving to us," said Patel.

Patel is offering a 20 percent discount for anyone looking for refuge from a nearly unprecedented storm.

"To be able to offer that to someone in their time of need, it's a great feeling, and that's what this community is about," said Patel.

A community that's used to tourists--Ken Maples is a Pigeon Forge City Commissioner and former President of the Pigeon Forge Hospitality and Tourism Association.

"We understand what's going on, and we're in the hospitality business, so we don't take advantage of situations like this," said Maples.

He says the state hospitality association will work with the local community to help everyone out.

"We typically ask the hotel community to offer a government per diem rate, which in the state of Tennessee is $90 dollars, but typically it's going to be less than that," said Maples.

The community is working to welcome others in their time of need.

"It's about coming together, it's a small community, it's a family, close-knit community, and it feels great to be able to provide that for others as well,"said Patel.

Patel says there's no telling how many calls will come in during the next few days, but he plans on helping as many people as he can with discounts and a comfortable place to stay.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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