Breaking News
More () »

Macon-Bibb County prepares for evacuees escaping Hurricane Ian

As of 3 p.m. Monday, Visit Macon says 70 to 80 percent of rooms are booked after Gov. DeSantis expected evacuations. That number will likely grow through the week.

MACON, Ga. — Since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that he expected local evacuation orders for the Tampa area around 11 a.m. Monday, hotels in Macon have begun booking up fast, according to Visit Macon.

Many evacuees are likely to drive up I-75 and take cover in areas like Americus, Albany, and Macon. Officials at the Red Cross of Georgia and Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency say they're preparing for it.

"My hope for it going out to sea... that ship has sailed, and so now, it's, 'What can we do to be prepped and ready as best possible?'" said Macon-Bibb County EMA Director Spencer Hawkins. 

In the county bunker, Macon-Bibb officials are preparing for whatever response officials will have to take to Hurricane Ian later this week whether it's responding to the storm at home or providing shelter for evacuees from Florida or even South Georgia.

"They're going to pick the Turnpike up and head up,. so they're going to come to us," said Hawkins talking to county employees, showing a map of possible places Tampa residents could evacuate. 

Monday could be the calm before the storm for Macon's 60 hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. 

Aaron Buzza says bookings have picked up Monday. As of 3 p.m., Buzza said 70 to 80 percent of Macon's rooms are already booked for later in the week. He says some hotels are already completely booked up. 

Meanwhile, county and state officials are preparing to set up shelters if needed.

The American Red Cross of Georgia says they have 11 teams on the way to Macon. They plan to set up a command center at the Macon State Farmers Market on Eisenhower Parkway. 

"We'll be bringing in disaster teams. We have some shelter teams coming in and additional relief supplies, so we are ready to go," said Maria Center, executive director of the American Red Cross of Georgia. 

Both the American Red Cross of Georgia and Macon-Bibb EMA say they won't release where shelters will be until they know for sure. The number of shelters and where they're located will depend on how bad this storm will be and how much of a need officials see in Macon-Bibb.

Macon-Bibb County EMA Director Spencer Hawkins also wants to remind people to prepare now--the earlier, the better. He says make sure you have a kit for essentials-- like batteries and flashlights--and a plan for getting your family to safety if necessary.

Before You Leave, Check This Out