The Transylvania Times -

Hurricane Irma Drives People To Transylvania - Brevard, NC


September 11, 2017

Dozens of Floridians and people from other states in the projected path of Hurricane Irma were seeking refuge in Brevard and Transylvania County last Friday.

“We’ve had a high volume of calls from people looking for accommodations,” said Emily Martin of the Brevard/ Transylvania Chamber of Commerce. “A number of them have been from hurricane evacuees.”

Martin said any place with multiple rooms and beds are “pretty much filled.”

She said there were some AirBnBs and VROs that were still available, but most of them were full too.

Marge McNeil, a volunteer who works the front desk at the Chamber of Commerce, said there had been 90 visitors to the center by mid-afternoon Friday.

Some of them were people who had planned to come here before the hurricane and others were evacuees looking for a place to stay.

McNeil said Pisgah Forest Baptist Church has opened its doors to people fleeing Hurricane Irma.

Kris Hadachek, another volunteer at the Chamber of Commerce, said there had been a few cancellations at some of the hotels, “but not very many.”

Hadachek said the fact Mountain Song Festival this last weekend made it more difficult for late arrivals to find places to stay.

But evacuees were able to find shelter, whether it be at local hotels, AirBnBs or with relatives.

For Walter DeTeresa, the decision to evacuate his and his wife’s home in Coral Springs, Fla., last Thursday ahead of Hurricane Irma was based on personal safety and heart-wrenching memories of 25 year ago and Hurricane Andrew.

“I went through Andrew and saw the destruction it caused and I was not going to take a chance with our safety,” he said.

He and his family had evacuated inland during Andrew, with his wife staying in the hospital because she was pregnant and he at another family member’s home with their first child.

“When I went home, I got lost in my own neighborhood, which I had lived in for four-and-a-half years,” he said. “All of the landmarks were gone – the trees, the colors of houses because the paint was peeled off by the winds, the street signs because there were none. There was nothing recognizable about the neighborhood.

“I felt like my heart was ripped out when I saw what was left of our home.”

He said the winds in Andrew had been clocked as high as 167 miles.

“This (Irma) was forecast to be about the same, if not worse,” he said.

He said the decision to evacuate came down to one thing – personal safety for him and his wife. He said he had hoped his adult children would have come with him, but for reasons of their own they decided to stay and ride out the hurricane.

Memories of a more recent hurricane affected Matt Flynn’s decision to head to the mountains. Flynn and his family, who live near Orlando, Fla., saw the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and decided to heed the evacuation warnings.

“Not to judge, but I saw what happened in Houston, I was not going to take that risk,” he said. “When I saw we were in the projected cone for Irma and its 185 mph winds, it was an easy choice.”

Flynn said their home is close to a low-lying area and feared the projected rainfall could have caused his house to be flooded.

As of Monday morning, Irma had been downgraded to a tropical storm.


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