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Hotels grapple with influx of evacuees: ‘The volume of calls is so much higher than usual’

Posted at 4:09 PM, Sep 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-11 18:18:15-04

CHESTER, Va. -- The phone at The Country Inn and Suites in Chester keeps ringing as Hurricane Florence churns toward the Carolinas, and people frantically try to line up hotel stays so they can evacuate.

"The volume of calls is so much higher than usual," Rochelle Colston, who works the front desk at the hotel, said.

Colston said she escaped Hurricane Irma last year.

"It's a scary thing to go through," Colston said. "I feel where everyone is coming from. I rode from Florida with five kids."

She ended up settling here and has a lot of compassion for the folks on the other end of the line.

"Stay calm don't panic," Colston said.

Some have already left, like Rakeem Morris, a senior at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

"64 West coming down here was congested," Morris said about his trip Tuesday morning.

He didn't want to leave at first, but his mom told him no way.

"My mom was like excuse me?" Colston said.

Meanwhile, in Petersburg, Matoaca Christian Fellowship is opening up its parking lot for evacuees in RVs.

"We'll get as many people in our parking lot as we can," Barry Matthews, from Matoaca Christian Fellowship, said.