Alabama Motels Hold Rates for Evacuees

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Most Alabama hotels kept their rates about the same as evacuees began fleeing Hurricane Gustav, but a few hiked their rates over Labor Day weekend as the storm targeted the Gulf Coast.

The Associated Press survey of 15 motels in five major cities in Alabama found that two in Huntsville and one each in Birmingham and
Montgomery had hiked their rates from Friday to Monday as evacuees
scrambled to find a place to stay.

Other hotels surveyed in Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Dothan kept rates about the same as the storm rolled
through over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King's office said publicity from prosecutions for price-gouging after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 helped crack down on the practice.

King's chief of staff, Chris Bence, said the AG's office had received 81 Gustav-related price gouging complaints as of Monday afternoon.

Alabama law makes it illegal during a natural disaster to raise prices 25 percent or more than the average rate charged in the same area within the last 30 days.

State tourism director Lee Sentell said finding rooms for evacuees went smoother for Gustav than it did when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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