Roof of Hotel with 70 Occupants Collapses in Florence Winds


As wind gusts topping 100 mph battered the East Coast with Hurricane Florence’s arrival early Friday morning, occupants of one North Carolina hotel found themselves in a frightening situation.

According to Fox News, emergency personnel was dispatched to the Triangle Motor Inn in Jacksonville after receiving a report that part of the lodge’s roof had collapsed.

An infant and other children were among the people transported from the inn to a temporary shelter at the Jacksonville Center for Public Safety. Authorities also evacuated a number of pets.

According to WWAY, the process began shortly before 1 a.m. Some occupants were boarded onto emergency vehicles while others drove themselves to the new location with a police escort.

There were no injuries associated with the incident or evacuation.

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In addition to emergency personnel’s description of “life-threatening damage” to the structure, one police officer reported spotting a “basketball-sized hole” in the wall of one of the hotel’s guestrooms.

A few of the rooms sustained flooding damage when a portion of the roof collapsed.

“Firefighters later found life-threatening damage to the structure,” according to the news release. “Cinder blocks that were part of the structure were crumbling in some place and residents were still in many of the rooms.”

Widespread flooding and structural damage have been reported elsewhere along the North Carolina coast, including New Bern.

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Roughly 150 residents of that city had called for an emergency rescue as of Thursday evening. That announcement from city officials came days after locals were told to evacuate ahead of the storm’s arrival, according to The Western Journal.

Local police shared images of flooded streets and other evidence of its impact.

Several New Bern residents who opted to ride out the hurricane described the scene from their own homes.

Local home builder George Zaytoun said he decided to stay at his home so he could pitch in to help others after the storm had passed. It is a decision he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he now regrets.

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“I think we kind of let our guards down,” he said. “In hindsight, yes, I would have probably gotten out of here.”

Though he initially believed he had taken all necessary precautions, including an elevated home with plenty of supplies, he felt differently Friday morning.

“It’s like a bomb has gone off here,” he said. “Everything around us is underwater.”

Jay Schreiber said he could watch the Trent River exceed its banks from his home in a nearby condominium.

“Even if the storm were to stop right now, it would still take almost a week for all that water to drain out,” he said.

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
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