Local region provides safety from the storm, at least for now

CRESTVIEW — People fleeing parts of Florida’s East Coast ahead of Hurricane Dorian and workers gearing up for the storm have been keeping some area hotels extra busy this Labor Day weekend.

Since Friday, evacuees from Miami, the Melbourne area and Jacksonville have checked in at the Super 8 by Wyndham hotel in Crestview, said Harry Bhalavat, the hotel’s manager.

Many other people from outside the region had been calling to ask whether the local area is safe to visit, he said Saturday.

Gov. Rick DeSantis on Thursday declared an emergency for the entire state as Dorian approached.

Dorian “will continue on a westward trajectory through Monday, passing by the northern Bahamas, then turn northward while moving just off the Florida coast towards the coast of South Carolina through Wednesday night,” according to officials from the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama. “Based on Dorian taking on this northward movement, no impacts are expected for our area.”

Alexis Shipman, a front desk employee at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites near Interstate 10 in Crestview, said while she wasn’t aware of any storm evacuees at the hotel, it was housing a lot of utility workers, emergency medical technicians and other first responders.

Like the nearby Super 8, the Holiday Inn had been fielding many calls from people asking whether the local area is safe. The calls have been coming from residents of Texas and other states west and north of Florida, Shipman said.

At Sundestin Beach Resort in Destin, things were pretty routine, guest services agent Steve Carithers said.

To the many people who have been calling about local weather conditions, “I pretty much tell them if the weather models hold, it should be little to nothing, but nothing is a guarantee,” Carithers said.

He said he has been directing callers to the hurricane tracker on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website.

“Most people have had reservations for a while” at the resort, Carithers said. “It’s just been a normal holiday weekend here.”