Don and Kim Cole left their home in Fort Pierce before the sun came up Thursday morning.
“I woke up at 3 a.m. and watched the news and it showed it was close to landfall, so I told my wife we had to leave,” Don said. “She didn’t want to go. She really didn’t. She wanted to stick it out.”
But with the potentially catastrophic Hurricane Mathew, packing winds of up to 140 miles per hour, on the brink of slamming into Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the Coles made the right decision.
The Coles have lived in Florida for about eight years and this is the first hurricane they have seen in this state.
But finding a hotel proved to be difficult. Don figured he would come across one once he got onto Interstate-75 but they came up empty on reservation attempts.
That is until someone they knew told them there were still rooms available at the Days Inn here in Navarre.
“My wife got on the phone and made the reservation. We got lucky because I was on my way to Alabama next,” Don said. “I was tired. I’m glad we found a place.”
They plan to stay for at least two nights and may head home after that depending on how everything plays out with the hurricane.
“If we go home and there isn’t a home, I’m not sure what we’ll do,” Don said. “We’ll figure out something. I’m glad we left. I told my wife we’ve been married 40 years. I’d like to be married longer.”
Don and his wife were among the many who found a place to stay in Navarre. By early Thursday afternoon, the Days Inn and other hotels in the area were booked up with evacuees.
“We started getting calls (Wednesday),” said Lynne Myers, the sales manager at the Days Inn. “Today, our hotel was half vacant, but all of a sudden, we were completely booked.”