East Ridge Budgetel Inn offers free rooms for Florida evacuees
EAST RIDGE, Tenn. (WDEF) — An East Ridge hotel manager is stepping up and helping 350 Florida residents who had to flee because of Irma.
Budgetel Inn and Suites in East Ridge is three months from opening, but they’ve decided to open its doors early to Florida evacuees, like Lindsey Rose Striano.
“Up in Knoxville Tennessee the hotel we were staying at was highly price gouging us and we had previously lost all of the money we had had,” Striano said.
Through social media, Striano found out the inn was offering free rooms to Floridians impacted by Irma.
— Casey Steinman (@icaseysteinman) September 9, 2017
“We couldn’t believe that this place was actually real. That they were offering assistance to our family and other families like us. I just didn’t think that people like this existed,” Striano said.
Casey Steinman, the general manager, says he knew they had to do something.
“We spoke to the fire marshal on Saturday morning, Kenny Custer, has been fantastic, we couldn’t have done this without him. He allowed us to go ahead and open for seven days, so we could help house some of the people who were fleeing from Florida,” Steinman said.
Community members and businesses are donating everything from clothes, toiletries, and hot meals.
“Everybody is pitching in the community and really helping us out,” Steinman said.
Striano appreciates all of the generosity and support.
“The people in the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee, we owe our lives to pretty much. If it was not for the city we would not be here. We still do not know if we have a home to go home to yet,” she said.
Family and friends sent Striano pictures of her flooded neighborhood. While she is uncertain about life back in Florida, she feels at home here.
“We feel like we are a part of the community. They have made this, aside from this being such an unpleasant experience, this leg of our journey has been one of the most pleasant experiences that we’ve all had here,” she said.
If you would like to donate, the Budgetel Inn general manager says they are still in need of basic necessities.
Guests are able to stay until Friday, but they might extend that a few days depending on the damage assessment in Florida.