Hotels and motels as far north as Birmingham are filling up fast Friday as Gulf Coast residents make preparations to flee from Hurricane Dennis.
Lasonya Lewis, a desk clerk at Courtyard by Marriot in Montgomery, said they are sold out. She said hotel workers are stocking up on water supplies, generators and other supplies that might be needed during a storm.
Forecasters predict that Dennis, a Category Four storm, will strike the Gulf Coast, anywhere from Florida to Louisiana, Sunday or Monday.
Amit Patel, manager of Best Western Inn in Greenville, about 130 miles north of Mobile, said people seem to be looking for rooms earlier than they did in advance of Hurricane Ivan.
He said many of the rooms at his hotel have been booked by utilities and insurance companies, to make sure that their workers have a place to stay during recovery efforts after a storm.
The Alabama Department of Tourism and Travel is working to help people find available hotel rooms. The department's director, Lee Sentell, said people evacuating the storm can call 1-800-ALABAMA (252-2262) to receive information on hotels and motels with rooms available.
He said the agency is concentrating on finding available rooms in Birmingham, Gadsden, Decatur, Cullman and other areas to the north.
Sentell said some rooms are still available in Mobile, apparently because people are trying to distance themselves as much as possible from the worst of the storm.