Cedartown, Georgia — Fleeing Irma, Finding Southern Hospitality
We always try to plan our Simply Smart Travel trips well in advance. We have found that it pays to do our homework and research the best places to stay and learn about our destination's attractions and culture. However, longterm advance planning is not always possible. That is the situation we faced at our Sarasota, Florida home as category 5 hurricane Irma churned toward us, days away. The official message was clear: get out if you can or go to a shelter if you cannot.
The Exodus Begins
We heeded the advice and fled north. But planning and preparation still proved to be valuable and made our evacuation less stressful. After poring over TV weather reports and downloading the Florida Storms app for our phones, we filled our gas tank, loaded our precious computers in the trunk, packed appropriate clothes and a few necessities and decided that Northwest Georgia seemed to be a good place to evacuate to, given the storm's predicted path. Knowing Atlanta would be mobbed by evacuees, we decided on Cedartown Georgia, a town 60 miles west of Atlanta. We made a reservation for two nights at the Cedartown Best Western and hit the road four days before the storm was scheduled to hit. We figured and soon verified that the highways would be clogged. So we got on our phones and started to call hotels along the way since it became obvious that we would not make Cedartown in the normal drive time of nine hours. After getting a lot of “Sorry, we are full” responses, we found one in Tallahassee and arrived there after a ten and a half hour drive (normally about five and a half), mostly on secondary roads because I-75 became a parking lot.
The next morning, we set off from Tallahassee on U.S. 27 toward Cedartown and arrived there in midafternoon. After checking in to the hotel, the front desk suggested that we go to Jefferson's restaurant across the street for dinner since they were offering free food to Florida evacuees. That was our first taste of southern hospitality. What wonderful and generous people. We tried to pay but they would not accept it.