Hurricane Matthew sends tourists to Scenic City - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hurricane Matthew sends tourists to Scenic City

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Several states along the coast are still under evacuation as they prepare for Hurricane Matthew. The hurricane has driven thousands of people away from their homes, searching for safety.

Some families like the Nays have found just that in Scenic City.

"We had like at 4 o'clock in the morning they said evacuate where we live so we took off," said Mr. Nay.

Thanks to traffic, what was supposed to be a seven hour drive from Jacksonville, FL turned into 10 for the family of seven. 

But they said finding a hotel wasn't easy.

"One thing was trying to find hotels because a lot of places had no hotels," said Mr. Nay. "My wife Amanda was looking through the towns and we found some in Chattanooga and we're like Chattanooga kinda sounds fun. Checked a few things out and was like let's go ahead and do it."

Though the Nay family lucked up with a place to stay, many of the downtown hotels, like the Staybridge Suites are sold out. 

"We started out with approximately 38 arrivals. A little after noon we were up to 43 and from that point on the numbers just kept growing and growing and growing. Before the end of the evening we were completely sold out," said Walter White, the front office manager.

White said families arrived with their pets looking for a place to stay, but the hotel was booked before the hurricane came about.

But White said his staff made sure to help evacuees in any way they could.

"We've kept a very close look at our inventory to make sure if we had something to set aside for any more victims."

It's something the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association is urging more hotels to do.

Over the years the TnHTA has created a program called "Together We Prepare" with the American Red Cross and other emergency related entities.  That program urges that all TnHTA members and other hoteliers in the state provide rooms to evacuees for a reasonable rate and potentially even at the government rate or lower.

In the meantime, families like the Nays said they're enjoying their getaway.

"This has been a nice place to come and not worry about what's at home."

The Tennessee Aquarium is also helping visitors enjoy their stay in Chattanooga. They're offering half priced tickets through Friday, October 14th, to those from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

A pictured I.D. is required to receive the special discount

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