Hurricane Irma evacuees find safe haven in Middle Tennessee

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NASHVILLE,Tenn. (WKRN) – More and more Florida evacuees are making their way to Tennessee

Charlena Berry, her mom and two friends left South Florida and made it to Nashville on Wednesday.

“Atlanta is the hot spot so we wanted to avoid it,” Berry told News 2. “Here, there’s not as many people to compete with for food, water, gas, those things that are a scarce resource right now.”

Four women, three children, two dogs, one man and one cat booked two rooms at the Baymont Inn and Suites in Goodlettsville.

They say the city and the hospitality drew them in.

PHOTOS: Hurricane Irma

“People are very nice here,” said Berry’s friend, Jeanne Lorenzo. “We’re not used to this, so thank you, City of Nashville. We feel at home, very welcome.”

The group is continuing to work and resume their daily lives while they wait out the storm.

But others who waited to come to Nashville on Friday had trouble finding hotel rooms.

“I wasn’t going to chance it one bit,” Jesse Montgomery who fled to La Vergne from Tampa told News 2.

Without hesitation he grabbed his two-year-old son, his cousin and his girlfriend and hit the road.

“I was so scared. I was ready to go because they actually said just stay in Tampa, but I’m like my life is way more important. I thought it was best to just get in the car and go,” explained Kiara Turner.
The couple had no destination in mind.

“We literally were just looking at the map trying to decide where to go and we just decided to go to Tennessee,” said Turner.

MORE: Complete coverage of Hurricane Irma

Unaware if their home will still be intact when they return, the couple didn’t grab much for their journey.

“We packed our bags, there was no time to waste and it was getting faster and stronger as the hours went back so I was ready to haul tail when it was time,” said Turner.

“I got my family, that’s the only thing I care about,” Montgomery chimed in.

On the way he said traffic was bumper to bumper while gas, water and hotels were hard to come by.

“The hotel, it was bad in Georgia. They had nothing, we had to come here. There’s a lot of people sleeping at the gas stations, the rest stops were full at a lot of places,” he explained.

They found a room at the Quality Inn in La Vergne.

“We found this place, thank God we found this place they gave us a good deal,” said Montgomery.

Now the couple is afraid Irma will hit Middle Tennessee so they are going to keep moving.

“Stay here for like a day and then we are heading back on the road, we are not going to stay here at all.”

The couple says they will likely move on to St Louis, while praying for their friends and family that chose to stay behind and ride out the storm.

News 2 called more than a dozen hotels in Murfreesboro that said they are full and are housing evacuees.

News 2 also reached out to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp, who said hotels were already busy, but have now picked up because of evacuees.