As tropical storm Irma moved through Atlanta Monday, many evacuees from Florida and South Georgia filling up the city’s hotels were ready to return home, but emergency officials told them to wait.
Richard Anthony felt cooped up, so as Irma dumped rain, he stepped just outside the entrance of the Comfort Inn he was staying at near Turner Field.
Staff said nearly all of the hotel’s 90 rooms were filled with evacuees.
Anthony’s home is in Daytona Beach. He drove to Atlanta last week to see a Fleetwood Mac cover band in concert.
“I’m still a rock and roller from way back,” said Anthony, who’s retired.
The storm kept Anthony in Atlanta, and as it passed through Monday, he wanted to go home.
“I’d drive right now if they cleared Daytona Beach and the bridges were open. I’d go back right now,” he said.
Anthony said he thinks his roof might be damaged, and he wants to begin repairs on his house.
“I know the fence is gone. I know the shed we put back up is probably gone. All the stuff that was in the shed is probably scattered all over the place,” he said.
Once he gets back to Florida, Anthony said he may travel to other parts of the state to help with repairs.
But that may take a long time.
“Evacuees should not attempt to return home as there are significant damages to roadways, power and water resources in Georgia and Florida,” read a press release from Georgia’s Emergency Management Office on Monday afternoon. “Officials understand that Florida and Georgia evacuees are anxious to return home and ask for everyone’s patience as we work to ensure it is safe to do so.”
Some staying at the Comfort Inn weren’t as anxious to head home, but they were getting antsy.
Gabbie Johnson, from Miami, took her two kids to the Georgia Aquarium to fight their “cabin fever.”
“We loved it. It was nice. It was just so many people. Florida was there,” she said.
Besides a damaged fence, Johnson said her home was mostly unscathed. About every hour, she said she calls her family in Miami to check in with them, and they’re also safe.
“It’s a thank God moment," she said. "I’m grateful nothing happened over there. It could have.”