Local motels prepare for refugee storm

Published 11:11 pm Saturday, August 30, 2008

In preparation for the potential of a Category 5 Gustav, Picayune area motel chains are getting ready for a storm of their own.

“We are completely booked up until the fourth,” said Angela Blye, front desk clerk of the Picayune Motel on U.S. Highway 11. While the parking lot remained largely empty on Saturday afternoon, Blye said that the influx was scheduled to start later on in the evening.

She said that while some of her reservations were the elderly, a large majority of the calls were coming from workers who are going to use the motel as a staging area much as they did following Hurricane Katrina.

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Willie Patel, general manager of the Picayune Inn on Cooper Road, told a slightly different story. Patel has been receiving calls from evacuees who were hoping to get a little further north, but were running into reservation issues. He said caller after caller complained of the lack of availability in the Picayune area as well.

His parking lot also remained devoid of cars on Saturday afternoon, and he said that he did have some availability for the next two nights, but after that he was completely booked through the fourth.

By this evening it is expected that those who have not made prior reservations will have to expand their radius to find a room at the inn.