When Hurricanes Churn, A Little Hotel Becomes Something More
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
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.
(SOUNDBITE OF JOSHUA REDMAN AND THE BAD PLUS' "AS THIS MOMENT SLIPS AWAY")
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