Myrtle Beach hotel opens its doors to almost 200 evacuees from Georgia retirement community

Myrtle Beach hotel opens its doors to almost 200 evacuees from Georgia retirement community

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A lot of residents were on standby to evacuate here in Myrtle Beach.

While that evacuation order never came for Grand Strand residents, as soon as Hurricane Irma shifted west, the area officially become a place of refuge for evacuees further south.

Now, an entire assisted living home out of Savannah, Georgia is in the Grand Strand, thanks to the Myrtle Beach Sheraton Convention Center Hotel.

With Hurricane Irma impacting Georgia, officials there sounded the alarm for days about the danger this historic storm would bring to the state. That caused residents to desperately look for shelter elsewhere.

As for the Savannah Commons Retirement Community, residents there were told they needed to evacuate immediately. So, their search led them to the Myrtle Beach Sheraton Convention Center Hotel.

The hotel's general manager said she got the call around Friday afternoon from officials at the assisted living home, saying they needed to evacuate almost 200 of their faculty and staff.

It was also a necessity that residents had three meals a day.

Once the Sheraton confirmed they had the resources that would accommodate the people from Georgia, the home's residents packed their bags and headed this way.

Hotel staff was also able to work with the assisted living facility's staff on a price that would fit their budget.

Also in the hotel were a few highway patrolmen, people from Florida and a team from the Red Cross. However, the bulk of the guests were from the Savannah assisted living home.

"The staff was excited that we were able to help," said hotel general manager Suzanne Hinde. "I was a little nervous when the call first came through because we weren't quite in the clear and I was nervous that even though we were out of that cone, what if something would have shifted. But they realized that was something that could potentially happen and we just worked through it."

At first, the assisted living home staff and residents planned to evacuate to Tennessee, but when the storm was going to affect their drive there, their changed plans led them to Myrtle Beach.

The evacuees have been staying at the hotel since Friday. During their time there, they have been able to take part in activities like exercise, bingo, crossword puzzles and live music.

On Tuesday, they were also getting to enjoy Ripley's Aquarium at a discounted price.

Beyond the fun activities and seeing what Myrtle Beach has to offer, staff members with the Savannah Commons Retirement Community said they are so thankful the city of Myrtle Beach was so eager to help at the last minute.

Jessica Schroyer, director of marketing for the retirement community, said their original plan was to split up the residents and staff.

"That day when we found out we were changing hotels, I said, 'Oh no,' but (when) they said we're changing to put everybody in one hotel there was immediate relief because we were going to be able to keep everybody together," Schroyer said.

The Savannah guests will be at the hotel until Wednesday. So far, they know their building in Georgia only suffered leaks and blown away gutters as a result of Irma.

Sheraton staff also allowed the evacuees to bring their animals.

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