MINER - Hurricane winds may not make it this far inland, but the Interstate 55 corridor is channeling a rush of another sort our way: coastal residents seeking lodging while they wait for Ivan to pass.
Denise King at the front desk of the Best Western Coach House Inn had already checked in two people within 15 minutes of beginning her shift at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
"We have 13 rooms left," King said, confirming the hotel would not usually be this full if not for those seeking shelter due to the hurricane.
"Most of them are from Alabama," King said of the extra guests. One woman who checked in with her children said her husband has not left yet, King said, "and it's one of the most dangerous parts of where the hurricane is going to hit."
The Days Inn is seeing at least a 15-percent increase over their normal occupancy for this time of the year, estimated Shela Mays, sales director.
"I guess yesterday everybody started checking in. We had a few check in the day before," Mays said. "They ask, 'Do you have a room? We have to get away from the hurricane.' ... Most of them are from Louisiana, some from Mississippi."
Many of those checking in to Miner and Sikeston hotels explained they haven't been able to find lodging any further south.
"They said that there's no rooms between here and there. They called me yesterday morning and said there are no rooms in Memphis," Mays said. "Right now I still have about 18 rooms, so I'm getting close (to being full.)"
"We are sold out for tonight," reported Carla Norman, general manager of the Drury Inn in Miner on Wednesday. "We had several reservations already, but then we did get a few people who are coming up from the hurricane. They're from all over - several from Louisiana and Mississippi and that area."
Norman confirmed local hotels are getting the business "because all the other hotels were full along the way - they were trying to stay on (Interstate) 55."
"All the Drury Inns in the area are full - even Cape Girardeau," she added. "We're sold out."
Norman said there was a medical convention in Cape which accounts for some of the business, "but they probably got some overflow from us. We were getting it from the southern hotels - they were sending them up in our direction."