Myrtle Beach KOA Campgrounds offers free shelter to hurricane evacuees

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – A campground site in Myrtle Beach is offering a free, two-night stay and free meals to people escaping Hurricane Irma. At least 20 families who have evacuated Florida because of the storm have made reservations at KOA Campgrounds on 5th Avenue South.

“We would have been sleeping in the car until the storm was over without this campground,” said Heather Hatton. That’s what she and the rest of her  did when Hurricane Matthew hit their hometown of Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Now, almost a year later, another hurricane has forced them to hit the road. “Stressful, very stressful. Trying to pack up what you think you’re going to need. Knowing that when you get back, you might not have anything,” said Michele Fourman, Heather’s mother. Fourman says her house still has damage Hurricane Matthew. “We had three trees hit our house. It took out the whole laundry room and it’s still not fixed from then,” said her daughter Nicole.

The family of nine left Florida yesterday and didn’t even know KOA was offering free shelter, until they called to make a reservation. “Very very much relieved,” said Michele. “It took a lot of stress of knowing we had somewhere to be.” KOA general manager Jeremiah Drew said, “You get to us, we’ll take care of you, that’s just how we do it.”

When Myrtle Beach escaped Irma’s path, Drew says he knew he had to help those who wouldn’t be so lucky. “If you had the opportunity to do it, you’d do it and we just have that blessing on us to be able to step up and help out,” he said. To which Michele says, “The generosity, and the welcoming, it just gets you kind of emotional. This place doesn’t even know us but they’ve opened their arms and everything they have to us.”

Though the Hattons don’t know what the next few days will bring, they said they’re grateful to be able to stop and catch their breath. “Being able to do this has helped us make the best of what we’ve got going on,” said Michele.