East Texas Hotels Already Filling Up As Gustav Approaches

Gustav is driving residents to East Texas.

We checked in this afternoon with area hotels and they are booking up left and right for next week. KLTV 7's Courtney Lane shows us how coastal residents are taking action early, trying to avoid another disaster.

On Friday, it will be three years since Hurricane Katrina hit.

And now thanks to Gustav, East Texas hotels are being flooded with reservations.

"I wasn't expecting it to hit quite so early because it's so far still out they don't know where it's going yet but people are scared," said Suzanne Beall of Sleep Inn & Suites, Tyler.

"Just frantic. Just trying to make sure that they have somewhere to go and make sure they have a place to stay and a roof over their head and I guess they're all concerned as well, what happened in 2005," said Tina Makowsky of Candlewood Suites, Tyler.

Pat O'Toole is booking four rooms for family members coming in from New Orleans.

"My family, my people are all going nuts. My sister couldn't get a room as far as Memphis," O'Toole told us.

She says it hasn't been easy finding any vacancies for next week.

"I called one place and they were full because of the hurricane so I said I'm getting in my car," said O'Toole.

"Most of the calls we've gotten are people who've been hit by Rita and they want to make sure they have a place to go," said Beall.

"Most of them from Beaumont and some from Louisiana," said Cindy Smith, the director of sales at the Hampton Inn in Longview.

In Longview, hotels are also booking up.

"We have 91 rooms and all of those are taken for next week, most of them for big disaster teams that are getting ready to come on down and be ready," said Smith.

For O'Toole it's bringing back eerie memories of fleeing Hurricane Katrina.

"I got chills when she was talking. You know and when people evacuated before sometimes they were on the road for 26 hours just to get to Tyler."

And they're coming again, packing heavy and bringing their pets, and east Texas hotels are scurrying to get ready.

"I've had my food guy come in tomorrow and we'll order up lots and lots of food so we'll be able to take care of everybody," said Beall.

Courtney Lane, Reporting clane@kltv.com