Middle Georgia cities prep for incoming Florence evacuees


FORSYTH, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Middle Georgia is getting ready for thousands of Florence evacuees coming into the area.

“We were at about 80% capacity yesterday,” said Forsyth Mayor Eric Wilson.

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As evacuees continue to making their way from the coast, city leaders are preparing for their arrival–and of course they’re doing it with a touch of southern hospitality.

“We are compiling hotel availability information for people who may come in or call in inquire about those questions,” said Visit Macon’s Valerie Bradley.

While their organization is helping visitors secure a place to stay, officials in Forsyth are welcoming them with goody bags.

“We’ll do about 1,000 bags today. They’re just some bottle water, cookies, mints, a letter from me talking about some of the things going on here, a map showing local businesses and things that they can do while they’re here,” Mayor Wilson told 41NBC.

He and others say it’s a small gesture, but one that will let residents from states nearby know they’re not too far from home.

“We’re neighbors. Whether we’re in the same city or the same county or the same state, we consider these folks as our neighbors when they’re here and we think it leaves a lasting impression,” Wilson continued.

The same goes for military personnel seeking shelter for themselves and their Black Hawks at Robins Air Force Base.

“From Fort Bragg, we have 31 HH-60’s out on the ramp here at Robins,” said Robins Installation Reception Officer Paul Jordan.

The goal in re-locating solely to protect the multi-million dollar helicopters from Florence’s growing power.

“The wind would pick them up and toss them around and destroy these air crafts,” Jordan explained.

It’s not quite home but Middle Georgia leaders are trying to give their stay a homey feel.

“I get follow ups from people who’ve stayed here in the past that talk about the appreciation of the hospitality they receive,” Wilson said.

This is the 3rd consecutive year that Forsyth’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has done gift bags.

If you know anyone needing a place to stay, there’s still some hotel availability there and in Macon.