Natchez hotels full of evacuees, Entergy crews

Published 6:16 pm Sunday, August 29, 2021

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NATCHEZ — A large contingency of Entergy crew members and hurricane evacuees are staying at the Hampton Inn and The Grand Hotel in Natchez.

Both of those hotels are filled to overflowing.

Patricia Cothren, general manager of the Hampton Inn Natchez, said most of her guests, other than the large group from Entergy, are evacuees from South Louisiana, hoping to ride out Hurricane Ida here.

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Cothren said her primary job right now is making sure the needs of her guests are taken care of.

“I have a great staff, and we are working to make sure our guests are comfortable,” she said. “We are a pet friendly hotel, so we’re making sure we have things like can openers for dog food, plenty of bottled water, anything we can think of.”

Ida is not Cothren’s first experience with managing the hotel during a hurricane.

“We are already putting together our emergency list of numbers our guests may need to call, like MEMA and FEMA. The last hurricane was so bad for Lake Charles and I knew most of our guests from there were Catholic, so we reached out to the Catholic priest and asked if he would be available, and he was happy to meet with them, if needed. We put together a little cheat sheet for our guests, trying to provide them with helping hands.

“I noticed this morning that we have two couples here who stayed with us the last time we had a hurricane. And one of those couples just got into their new house a few months ago,” she said.

While the Hampton Inn does not have a generator, Cothren said the hotel has not lost power during previous hurricanes here.

“We did lose power during the ice storm. The hotel has a plan to handle power outages,” she said.

Walter Tipton, general manager of The Grand Hotel, said, “Our hotel is definitely full. It’s about 75 percent evacuees and 25 percent Entergy crews.”

The Entergy crews have booked their rooms through Friday.

In fact, Tipton said some of the Entergy crew members may wind up staying at the Natchez Convention Center if rooms can’t be found for them elsewhere.

The Grand Hotel has a gas-powered generator, which can power elevators, the kitchen, air conditioning and the hotel’s meeting rooms. The convention center has a generator that operates on diesel and can hold about 600 gallons of fuel.

“That will last about a day,” he said. “We have someone on standby who will deliver more fuel if that’s needed.”

As to the current mood of the guests at The Grand, Tipton said, “They are bored to tears. They are all sitting around watching this slow moving storm.”