South Georgia Community Prepares for Florida Hurricane Evacuees

Last year's hurricane season taught us all a lot of lessons. The folks in Lake Park, Georgia are using those lessons to improve the evacuation process for their neighbors to the south.

Last summer, the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 were packed with folks fleeing oncoming hurricanes. Thousands of people made their first stop for help in Lake Park, Georgia.

While the residents of this small border community did their best to help, they learned a lot of valuable lessons.

Rhonda Barnes of the Lake Park Chamber of Commerce says, "We've learned to expect the unexpected, that's for sure. We've got several agencies and civic organizations that have pledged their help again this year as a result of last year, having to pull them in unexpectedly.”

That's good news, should major portions of Florida be forced to evacuate into Georgia this summer.

Georgia state officials say they're ready to welcome evacuees into the Peach State during the hurricane season, and these officials say they are more prepared this year than last to help those evacuees find a place to stay.

Kathy Sasnett, Visitor's Welcome Center Manager, says, "Those folks in Florida don't know when to plan ahead (for a hurricane). We don't know when the hurricanes will hit, so we're ready to offer hotel reservations to anyone stopping at the Visitor's Center. We'll have information coming in from other areas throughout the state."

It means that all the lessons learned last year should help future evacuees get even quicker help when trying to run from the eye of the storm, but like many Floridians, folks in Lake Park hope they don't have to use these lessons learned anytime soon.

Lake Park officials say some of last year's evacuees have even relocated to south Georgia to avoid any more storm troubles.