Kingsport hotels, BMS campground prepare to house hurricane evacuees

Hank Hayes • Sep 11, 2018 at 6:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Attention, Hurricane Florence evacuees.

Kingsport has a place for you.

Visit Kingsport Executive Director Jud Teague said Tuesday at the Kingsport Economic Development Board meeting that his tourist development organization has reached out to the eight hotels listed at www.visitkingsport.com to prepare for incoming guests from affected areas. 

“With the governor of South Carolina making it a mandatory evacuation ... we are pretty sure North Carolina is going to follow suit, and we will have an influx of people driving inland to escape the weather,” Teague said. “We have done this in the past. We just asked the hotels for their rates they would give evacuees and asked them to relax their pet policies. About all of them have done that. … They have had calls already.”

“We are anticipating more guests due to the hurricane. We have relaxed our pet policy as well to be able to accommodate all impacted by the event,” Ramona Jackson, general manager of the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center, said in an email.

Visit Kingsport, Teague noted, did a Facebook announcement about the initiative on Monday, and it was seen by about 20,000 people.

“We’re just telling people you can drive over the mountain and we will have a place for you to stay that’s not too far away from your home and is out of harm’s way,” Teague said.

Additionally, Bristol Motor Speedway announced Tuesday that it will again open its campgrounds to hurricane evacuees beginning Sept. 11.

“Evacuees may call toll free (866) 415-4158 for more information,” BMS officials said in a news release. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those in the path of Hurricane Florence.”

Anticipating a potential impact from the storm to its Virginia service area, Appalachian Power said Tuesday it is planning its response to Hurricane Florence.

“Due to the current storm path, strong winds and heavy rain will likely impact Appalachian Power’s Virginia service area beginning Friday and lasting throughout the weekend,” Appalachian Power officials said in a news release. “Forecasts suggest a significant chance of major flooding with 6-10 inches of rainfall in eastern portions of the Virginia service territory. However, this could likely change as the hurricane’s inland track better comes into focus. At this time, there is less weather concern for Appalachian’s West Virginia service area.”

Tri-Cities Airport spokeswoman Kristi Haulsee acknowledged the airport is getting inquiries from travelers about flights and will be encouraging them to check the airport website or directly with their airline for flight status.

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