Charlotte hotels filling up because of Hurricane Matthew - | WBTV Charlotte

Charlotte hotels filling up because of Hurricane Matthew

(WBTV/File) (WBTV/File)

Evacuees are coming to Charlotte to escape Hurricane Matthew. Several are staying at the Hyatt Place in uptown Charlotte. People are coming from Charleston, SC.

"It's kind of uncomfortable that this is something we have to do," Charleston resident Raul Carrillo said. "It's Mother Nature acting out on us."

People took the evacuation warning seriously. Liliana Villaveces said she knew things were serious when her job in Charleston shut down days before the storm would strike.

"It's kind of scary," she said. "Just knowing we have a house to come back to still, and you don't know what you are going to come back to."

Finding a hotel in Charlotte is becoming a challenge. The general manager of the Hyatt Place, Don Lockhart, said his hotel is booked. NASCAR race traffic, Monday Night Football and a convention caused rooms to be scarce. Other hotels are also filling up.

Lockhart said he did have about 50 rooms available, but they have been sold to people fleeing the hurricane. Lockhart is now doing what he can to make the evacuees feel comfortable.

"This hotel is not a pet-friendly hotel," he said. "We have a couple of guests who came up from Charleston that have dogs, for this occasion we allowed them to bring them."

City leaders said one in nine people in Charlotte depend on the hospitality industry to make ends meet. The unexpected hotel booking means more employees will be needed. 

"More hours is always better," Lockhart said. "Most of our employees are hourly, so they only work when there is business."

The Hyatt Place lost about $100,000 due to cancellations and people not patronizing the business because of recent violent protests. A police shooting death of an African American man caused there to be violence, a curfew and the National Guard invading downtown Charlotte. 

The extra hotel bookings will help the hotel recoup some of its losses. 

"I would say this is beneficial to us," the General Manager said. "I hate to say that because of Matthew."

Charlotte is not the only area experience an unexpected rush for rooms.

"This is not just a Charlotte event," Charlotte Area Hotel Association Executive Director Sid Smith said. "This is a regional thing. Hotels in counties going out many miles will be full."

There are about 33,000 hotel rooms in the Charlotte Mecklenburg area.  Smith tells WBTV if people are still scrambling to find a room, maybe a cancellation will pop up 

"Don't get frustrated," Smith said. "Keep trying."

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