Dothan hotels less booked than expected ahead of Hurricane Dorian

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Sep. 2, 2019 at 10:53 PM CDT
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Almost a year ago, panhandle Floridians flocked to Dothan to get out of Hurricane Michael's way.

There are mandatory evacuations in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and Dothan hotels are welcoming evacuees once again.

WTVY talked to several managers and front desk clerks, who all said they have had a lot of cancellations and have less rooms full than expected.

Dorian has a much larger impact zone and is a bit further away than Michael, so evacuees may be finding themselves in other inland cities, but that's not to say the circle city hasn't seen any impact.

It looked like any other Labor Day weekend in Dothan, but in the Bahamas, Category 5 Hurricane Dorian was devastating.

Some Floridians decided to spend a few days in Dothan before Dorian reaches their coastal homes.

"It's hard to imagine what the people are going through in the Bahamas when we look at those pictures, and we left two days ago because we felt like there was going to be a lot of traffic," said Hanni Helen Markowitz, who evacuated from West Palm Beach.

The Markowitz’s planned on spending the weekend in Dothan, but they may be sticking around a little longer.

"At least three days extra, two nights, because we didn't know what was going to happen,” said Markowitz’s Daughter Melissa. “We didn't know whether we were going to get hit or not."

Hurricane Dorian is moving at an incredibly slow pace, at times slowing down to a mile an hour.

The uncertainty has made it hard for hotels in the city to determine when to expect more evacuees.

"We're not where I think we should be,” said Courtyard Marriot Front Desk Clerk Markeith Hardison. “I think we should have a lot more, but since the hurricane's stalled right now, I'm thinking in the next couple of days, the phone calls will pick up."

For Hardison, it's hard not to compare the storm to Hurricane Michael.

"Nobody's panicking right now as bad as they did with Michael,” said Hardison. “Michael was different. It was the scariest one I've been through."

Hardison said she's checked in people from the Fernando Beach and Jacksonville areas.

She hasn't seen anyone from Georgia or South Carolina just yet.

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