When Hurricanes Churn, A Little Hotel Becomes Something More : The Two-Way During a storm evacuation, residents of Fort Myers, Fla., have to figure out where to go. Except for 91-year-old Dorothea Brown. She knows exactly where she'll be.

When Hurricanes Churn, A Little Hotel Becomes Something More

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Fort Myers is one of the cities in Florida that got a direct hit from Irma. There, living through the storm was as close to routine as a hurricane can be. NPR's Camila Domonoske spent time at a little hotel just off the interstate that becomes something more during hurricane season.

CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: The Comfort Inn behind the Cracker Barrel isn't advertised as a hurricane shelter, but Dorothea Brown knows it's the place to be when a storm comes through.

DOROTHEA BROWN: It's our second home when we have to evacuate (laughter).

DOMONOSKE: Evacuations are a part of life in Florida, especially when you live in a mobile home and RV park as Brown does. She's been taking refuge at this hotel for years. She tries to remember the first time.

BROWN: Well, there was Wilma. Before that was that - what was it? - a man's name that was real bad.

DOMONOSKE: That would be Hurricane Charley in 2004. Brown is 91 years old.

BROWN: I keep going (laughter). Yeah. Yeah, it's the Florida sunshine and the exercise and good friends, good neighbors.

DOMONOSKE: And a good refuge doesn't hurt.

BROWN: Yeah, we love to come here. And they are very good in trying to assist us the most they can. I can recommend this little motel (laughter).

DOMONOSKE: Here's why. The staff members brought their families and stayed for the entire storm. They kept serving fresh food and hot coffee. On Monday night, they set up a grill outside, barbecued chicken and shared it with stranded guests. Flor Garcia is the hotel's general manager.

FLOR GARCIA: Yeah, we got hungry. We just went to our houses to get whatever we had in them, meat or anything. So we just used that grill. We got a couple food and that's it.

DOMONOSKE: In the lobby, Dorothea Brown had some good news.

BROWN: I have a home to go home to. Thank God.

DOMONOSKE: But she'll be back at her second home to ride out the next storm. Camila Domonoske, NPR News, Fort Myers.


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