Hurricane Ida evacuees find shelter in Austin

Evacuees fleeing Hurricane Ida have found shelter in Austin hotels, with one hotel group even offering nearly 100 free rooms at their locations until Wednesday.

Bunkhouse Hotels, which includes the Hotel San Jose and the Austin Motel on South Congress Avenue said all the free rooms offered to evacuees were filled by Monday.

"We saw the hurricane, we saw the warnings, we heeded them and we decided to get out because we knew what we had been through for Hurricane Katrina," said Elizabeth Casey who drove to Austin from Louisiana. "This is where we needed to be. God brought us here because Austin opened up their hearts last time."

"We tried getting something in Houston early, but it was already full and then this came up in Austin and I thought let’s just go a little further and make the best out of something," said William Kieferle who was also in town from Louisiana.

For some the trip was a long one.

"An eight-hour drive turned into about 16-and-a-half hours for myself, and about 19-20 hours for the rest of the family that was with me," Casey said.

Her trip was made more difficult when hotel reservations didn’t match up. "When your neighbor, speaking of a state, is going through something, open up your arms to them," said Casey.

Bunkhouse Hotels did open their arms to evacuees.

"We really didn’t wanna go, because we didn’t know how long it would be and how much it would cost, everything like that, and it made it an easy decision to finally just say, ‘Okay, let’s go,’" said Kieferle who got a free room at Hotel San Jose.

Evacuees are still uncertain about what they will return home to. "A big mess. I don’t think we got water, we live in a little higher area, but a lot of wind damage mostly," said Kieferle.

"We know just the street that it would take to get to my parents home you can’t see," Casey said.

Having a safe place to stay let’s them focus on what’s most important. "We made the right choice for my family," Kieferle said.

"Better to be safe than sorry," said Casey.

Bunkhouse is also working with Tankproof, a Louisiana-based nonprofit, on a supplies drive for those hit hard by the storm. Anyone wishing to donate toiletries, personal hygiene items, socks, blankets, baby supplies, non-perishable items, and first aid supplies can drop them off in the lobby of hotel San Jose through Wednesday.

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