Chamber of Commerce welcomes Hurricane Florence evacuees

Published 4:55 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

All across the state, residents are looking to do their part to help those in need.

Tennessee Emergency Agency (TEMA) announced Wednesday that the state is deploying several state and local emergency management, medical and swift-water rescue teams to offer support for the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence looks to make landfall Friday.

”Tennesseans have a volunteer spirit to step up and help our neighboring states in times of need and I thank the men and women from these various teams who will be on the ground in the Carolinas when the storm hits to immediately provide needed services and relief,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement issued to the Elizabethton Star. “I also commend TEMA for coordinating the resources while monitoring Hurricane Florence’s possible impact to Tennessee.”

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While emergency units prepare to make their way to the Carolinas, Carter County is hunkering down and hoping to provide some friendly hospitality for those coming to the area.

The region is familiar when it comes to taking in evacuees from hurricanes.

Tonya Stevens, Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, said the area has welcomed in evacuees in the past and that she has already heard from chambers in Western North Carolina that indicated citizens will be heading this way to escape the storm.

It all comes back to providing a helping hand for those in need, and the Chamber of Commerce is ready to act.

“During the last big hurricane, we had several come into the area,” Stevens said. “Our goal is to provide support for these people. It’s a tough time when you have to get up and leave your home. We want to be the connector and show them hospitality so that they enjoy their stay in the area.”

Currently, the Chamber has assembled hospitality bags for evacuees coming to the area. Each bag includes local maps and a visitor’s guide. Other items, including toiletries and travel items, are also included.

Stevens added that any businesses looking to provide resources to evacuees can contact the Chamber so they can get the necessary items to the right people. The Chamber is also facilitating any evacuees that may need help with lodging during their time away from home.

“We understand the uncertainty people go through during this time,” Stevens said. “We want to welcome and encourage those that are coming to our area and let them know that we’re here for them.”

Anyone looking to help any potential evacuees that are coming to the area can visit the Chamber at 500 Veterans Memorial Parkway in Elizabethton or call (423) 547-3850.