Hurricane Michael Recovery Continues

NATIONAL REPORT—Recovery efforts are continuing in the areas affected by Hurricane Michael.

The Florida Restaurant and Hotel Association provided an update on the recovery for its members.

  • All hotels in Tallahassee have power restored and are open for business. They are booked solid for the foreseeable future with relief workers, evacuees, insurance adjusters, etc.
  • Hotels in Panama City Beach are almost all open and have power, but they are all booked with evacuees, first responders, etc.
  • Some hotels in Panama City are opening back up, but they are also full.
  • There is availability in Rosemary Beach, Sandestin, Destin and points west.
  • The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) worked yesterday to secure lodging for the families of 13 Bay County-area law enforcement families who cannot return home due to damage/destruction.
  • An FRLA lodging member in the Destin area provided 350 pillows, blankets, sheets and towels to the shelter in Panama City late last week.
  • An FRLA lodging member in Tallahassee, Candlewood Suites, is housing nurses from Panama City who came to Tallahassee with their patients after the PC hospital was damaged.
  • Candlewood Suites had evacuees come to the property and inquire about prices. They couldn’t afford it, so the hotel comped their rooms to ensure they had a safe place to stay.
  • Some people with prior reservations at Candlewood Suites have given up their rooms to ensure that evacuees and first responders can stay as long as they need.

“All of this serves as a testament to the generous and hospitable nature of FRLA members, and we are incredibly proud to represent men and women who serve others in times of need,” said Amanda Handley, press secretary for the FRLA.

The Storm

“Fueled by unseasonably high 84-degree sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and unhindered by any prior landfall, Hurricane Michael rapidly intensified shortly before making landfall at close to Category 5 intensity,” said Dr. Peter Sousounis, VP/director of meteorology with catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide, which estimates damage of up to $10 billion. “It struck near Mexico Beach in the Florida Panhandle on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 10, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (250 km/h). The minimum central pressure at landfall—a key measure of hurricane strength—was 919 mb, the third lowest on record for a U.S. hurricane. Michael is the most powerful hurricane to have come ashore in the Florida Panhandle since the first records were kept in 1851.”

St. Joe Assesses Damage; Donates $1M

Based on a preliminary assessment, St. Joe Club & Resorts’ overall portfolio of properties located in Walton County and Bay Counties received minimal damage from Hurricane Michael.

The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach, WaterSound Inn, WaterColor Inn & Resort, WaterSound Beach Club, Shark’s Tooth and Camp Creek golf courses, and all other Club & Resort properties in Walton and Bay Counties, except Bay Point Marina, suffered minor landscape damage and reopened Friday with the resumption of electric services and the safe return of staff. St. Joe is still in the process of evaluating operations in Gulf and Franklin Counties and believes that both Bay Point Marina in Bay County and Port St. Joe Marina in Gulf County suffered significant loss.

“Although St. Joe sustained minimal overall physical impacts from Hurricane Michael, our thoughts and prayers go out to those residents and business owners who are not as fortunate,” said Jorge Gonzalez, The St. Joe Company president/CEO. “We look forward to assisting this growing coastal region as we recover from the effects of Michael.”

To support the region following the effects of Michael, the St. Joe Foundation has donated $1 million to relief efforts.

Hard Rock Donates 30,000 Soap Products

Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International have donated 30,000 containers of soap, shampoo, shower gel, body lotion and conditioner for distribution to victims of Hurricane Michael. Some 150 cases containing 30,000 hygiene items will be distributed by Orlando-based Clean the World, which collects and recycles hotel soap and bottled in-room amenities.

The donated hygiene items are coming from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos Florida locations in Tampa and Hollywood, plus the Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee located east of Naples. The three hotels were finalizing an ongoing agreement with Clean the World when Hurricane Michael ravaged the Florida Panhandle and parts of the Southeastern United States. As part of the agreement, all three hotels will continue to donate soap, shampoo and related hygiene items to Clean the World on an ongoing basis, to help fight the global spread of preventable diseases.

“We want to quickly help hurricane victims, who need hygiene products now,” said Tracy Bradford, SVP of purchasing for Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International. “As a socially responsible hotel and casino company, we are committed to improving the lives of others and protecting the planet. Recycling hotel soap and other in-room amenities is the right thing to do.”

Other Brands Respond

Hotel Business reached out to brands for the status of their properties.

“Our thoughts are with all those affected by Hurricane Michael, including our employees, our franchisees, their staff and guests,” said a spokesperson from Choice. “Choice has approximately 100 hotels impacted in the area—most are operating and some are not. Ensuring the safety of those impacted remains our top priority, and the Choice family has been working closely with our franchised hotels to lend a helping hand. As a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program, we are encouraging Choice Privileges members to donate loyalty points that convert to cash in support of relief and recovery efforts; Choice will match up to 20 million contributed points throughout the end of this year.”

All Hyatt hotels in Florida and Georgia are open and continue normal operations, but the company is continuing to monitor the situation, according to a spokesperson.

“Our thoughts are with those affected by Hurricane Michael,” a spokesperson for Radisson said in a statement. “The safety of our guests and associates is our highest priority, and we are working with the Radisson, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inn & Suites by Radisson hotels that were in the storm’s path to provide operational assistance, as needed. Guests who have travel planned to potentially affected areas are encouraged to visit local news outlets for the most current information.”

Some IHG hotels in storm-impacted areas may be temporarily closed or at capacity. “Our thoughts are with those in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael as they begin recovery efforts,” a spokesperson for IHG said in a statement. “We continue to stay in close contact with our hotels to assess impacts and provide help, and have also activated the IHG Disaster Relief Colleague Assistance Fund to help employees in need. These efforts are supplemented by IHG’s annual charitable support of American Red Cross disaster relief efforts, which help communities across the U.S. as soon as disaster strikes.”

The statement continued, “We are so grateful for the hotel colleagues who have provided the highest levels of hospitality for those seeking relief and comfort from the storm. Many of our hotels are continuing to provide shelter to guests, employees, disaster relief personnel and the surrounding community during this time. All IHG hotels in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida are continuing to waive cancellation fees and welcome pets free of charge during the impacted timeframe.”