Southeast Hotels Welcome Storm Refugees | Connecticut Public Radio

Southeast Hotels Welcome Storm Refugees

Nov 2, 2011

For many people struggling without power, the answer has been to find a hotel room and hunker down. That’s meant a rush for the shoreline hotels and guest houses in Southeastern Connecticut, which was unscathed in the storm. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Normally this is the beginning of the quiet season for lodging businesses in the southeast of the state. The summer rush is gone and the fall leaf peeping crowd is also thinning out. But not this year. Kevin Shinde is assistant manager at the Niantic Motel.

“In these past few days, like from Sunday, people have been coming a lot, I have higher number of phone calls. I’ve had phone calls even when the customer is standing in front of me, I’ve had a line in front of me – it’s been hectic.”

Shinde says he’s had people arriving from as far away as Massachusetts. Of 70 open rooms at the motel, 63 were full on Monday night.

“Front desk, Mindy speaking….I’m so sorry about your power outage. Let me check for that. All I have left for tonight are two bedroom apartments….”

Just a few exits along 95, the Groton Inn and Suites' 112 rooms are filling up fast, although manager Nancy Keenan says even for people who can get rooms, the difficulties aren’t over.

“People booked rooms but then they couldn’t get gas to get down here. You know, the ATM doesn’t work to get cash, the gas station doesn’t work without electric. So we had a few people that were like, we’re coming, we just are in a line to get gas to drive for one hour.”

Keenan says the Inn was actually quieter on Sunday, and the real rush arrived Monday, along with some sad stories.

“A lady who is going through cancer treatment and her husband has arthritis. They tried to stay home that first night, but it was just bone-chilling for them. They were just so happy to get here and be able to rejuvenate themselves. So that was heart-wrenching.”

The Inn is hosting a utility crew brought in from Missouri, and they’ve had inquiries from Jet Blue to put up pilots stranded at Bradley. The other business Keenan is expecting soon – insurance adjusters.

“They had come down for the windstorm last winter, then they came back for the hurricane, so that whole group now, this is their third trip in just short of a year.”

With the power outages in some part of the state expected to last up to a week, hotel rooms on the shoreline are likely to remain in short supply.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.