|By Eddie Fitzgerald, Sun Journal, New
Bern, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 25, 2011--Many people fleeing the coast ahead of Hurricane Irene are filling up hotel rooms in New Bern.
Barbra Dotterer, general manager of the Hampton Inn on Hotel Drive, said Thursday she only had a few of the hotel's 101 rooms vacant.
"We expect to be completely sold out," Dotterer said. "People started calling Wednesday from the beach to see if we had any rooms available."
By Thursday, 80 rooms were filled and about 80 percent of them were occupied by people seeking shelter from the approaching storm, Dotterer said.
"Some of those are from local businesses, the hospital, telephone companies, people coming in to clean up after the storm," she said.
Dotterer said once the hurricane passes there will still be many people staying in hotels.
"It might be nice and sunny out, but some usually can't go home because their power is out," she said. "We are expecting some people to stay loner than the weekend."
To accommodate those people, Dotterer said they were serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to their guests Saturday and hot dogs that night and also having bingo games.
"We will try to make them feel comfortable while they are away from home," she said.
Yachtsmen, displaced vacationers and people living in the path of the storm are also getting rooms at the Hilton New Bern River Front Hotel.
Michael McMahon, general manager of the Hilton, said the hotel was about 70 percent full Thursday and expected to fill completely by the end of the day.
Some of the people getting rooms live on boats in the marina in front of the hotel and decided not to ride the hurricane out. But about 30 percent were people fleeing the hurricane, McMahon said.
"We got a lot of calls (for rooms) that started on Wednesday," he said.
Gary Curry, general manager of BridgePointe Hotel and Marina, said he expected that 116-room hotel to be sold out by Friday afternoon.
"It's definitely starting to fill up," Curry said Thursday after 30 people from the coast made reservations. "They are coming from the beach, and while they are coming this way they stop to wait out the storm."
BridgePointe Hotel and Marina has extended the rooms it usually reserves for pets because of the hurricane, Curry said.
"People are coming from the beach with their whole family and part of their families is pets," he said. "Some hotels don't allow pets. We usually have six rooms for pets but we have extended that to whatever is needed. We don't want to see them leave the little ones behind."
Once the hurricane passes, Curry said he expects companies and emergency people will start making reservations for any possible cleanup.
Eddie Fitzgerald can be reached at 252-635-5675 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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