As Floridians evacuated to safety to wait out Hurricane Irma, many headed directly north to Georgia. After ensuring multi-hour traffic jams, many were dismayed to hear that hotels and camp grounds were all filled up. However, the people of Georgia have graciously opened their homes to their fellow Americans in need.
Rescue authorities in Florida ordered nearly a third of Florida’s entire population to evacuate, as the hurricane was expected to make landfall on Sunday. 6.3 million headed towards Georgia to wait out the storm, and quickly filled all available commercial accommodations.
With even churches across Georgia filling up with Floridians, homeschool teacher, Mary Hoyt, decided that something needed to be done. She got plugged into, Hurricane Solidarity, an informal network working through the simple word of mouth and local news mediums, and managed to match 75 evacuee families with homes in Atlanta.
Hoyt stated, “Those are the ones we have settled or on their way … We have 300 more homes and counting that are available. People are so amazingly generous.”
Atlanta Motor speedway was built to able to accommodate thousands of campers during NASCAR racing events, and opened their facilities to evacuees free of charge. The website Airbnb also listed 85 extra homes in Georgia and Florida that had been made available to the Irma evacuees by the owners.
In Georgia, coast residents were told to evacuate too, and the residents were heading inlands before Irma hits. All lanes of the interstate 16 were allocated for the evacuation processes only. Campsites in Indian Springs State Park, near the Flovilla were also full with the refugees according to Park Manager Katherine Darsey.
“There are a lot of Florida license tags here,” Darcy noted, adding that people were still welcome to use the parking lot overnight if they needed a safe place to rest.
The pets of these evacuees also needed safety and shelter and hence Animal Shelters, already busy with the pets displaced from Hurricane Harvey are reporting more arrivals from Florida. Similarly an equestrian in Atlanta’s Suburb has agreed to hose approximate of 150 horses from Florida for free.