September 15, 2004 -- Posted at 7:16 AM CDT, updated at 7:25 a.m. 9/16/04
JONESBORO - Hotels across Region 8 are booked with refugees from Hurricane Ivan's Gulf Coast onslaught.
Though still over 100 miles offshore, many Gulf Coast residents have landed in Region 8 hotels due to the simple fact that hotels between here and the coast have already filled to capacity. Most hotels around the Jonesboro and surrounding areas are also now beginning to show 'no vacancy'.
Coastal residents are extremely appreciative of the hospitality shown. "A category 4 you just can't stay for", said one displaced resident, "Unbelivable!" Another resident lamented, "we had friends 4 hours behind us [who] could not get out at all."
A Jonesboro Comfort Inn manager expressed, "It's very heartbreaking, because when you talk to many of these people you realize what they had to leave at home."
Another coastal resident continued, "because I rode the storm Camille out, I knew better than to stay for this one, cause I know what it's going to do." And she expressed her gratitude for being here, "the people of Jonesboro should really be proud of themselves."
Ivan officially made landfall at approximately 2 a.m. (CDT) this morning near Gulf Shores, Alabama, packing winds of 130 miles per hour.
Meanwhile, there may be no rest for the weary. Tropical Storm Jeanne has now been upgraded to hurricane status, making it the sixth hurricane of the 2004 season. Jeanne is currently near the Dominican Republic.
On Thursday, Triple FM Radio Group, Alltel, and the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce are teaming up with KAIT to provide Ivan refugees free long distance phone calls so they can call their friends and family.