Hurricane Irma evacuees seek refuge in the mountains

Many Floridians fleeing Hurricane Irma are coming to the mountains of North Carolina. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Many Floridians fleeing Hurricane Irma are coming to the mountains of North Carolina.

Allegiant Flight 642 arrived in Asheville from Orlando just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Among the passengers was Calin Gribbin, a freshman at Florida Southern College.

"We get an e-mail yesterday saying we had to be out of school Thursday at 5, so, we all started trying to book flights," Gribbin said. "I was originally trying to get back home to Pittsburgh, but I couldn't get a flight back to Pittsburgh, so I'm in Asheville, North Carolina for now."

While Gribbin is traveling on to Kentucky with friends, other Floridians like Tom Wiegele of Sarasota plan to stay in Asheville awhile longer.

"We are scheduled to go home Sunday morning," Wiegele said. "So, I think in the back of our minds we know we are not going to probably go home Sunday morning."

Linda Goldsmith, also from Sarasota, plans to extend her stay, too.

"We live on a barrier island, and most of our friends and neighbors are evacuating north," she explained.

Wiegele and Goldsmith are staying at the Hilton Asheville in Biltmore Park. Hotel employees said phones have been ringing constantly. Many of the callers are from hurricane-prone territory.

"We received today, actually, a lot of calls from Charleston, South Carolina," Hilton front desk employee Kol Gold-Leighton said.. "People just calling, trying to make last minute calls, trying to get out of the storm's way. Yesterday, for instance, we had a lot of people calling in from Florida, the Keys in particular."

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