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East Texas hotels open lobbies to stranded travelers

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 12:21am

When the storm rolled through East Texas Sunday afternoon, people poured off Interstate 20 in Lindale, finding their ways to places, such as the Hampton Inn.

"When it hit it really surprised all of us so we all kind of got together and decided 'uh oh' we better do something," said Hampton Inn general manager Tanya Watkins.

What they did was turn the hotel lobby, into a shelter, welcoming anyone who needed a safe place to stay for free.

"We're glad that we could accommodate them because we sure don't want them out there on the the road," said Watkins.

A group of cheerleaders from Mandeville Louisiana were among those who called the inn home that night.

They were heading back from Dallas where they had participated in the NCA competitions, when the weather set in.

"I'd never experienced something like this before so it was kind of like all surreal," said cheerleader Kristine Stubbs.

"Whenever we were on the road it was really intense and nobody really knew what to do," said Kaitlin Shemroske.

So they pulled into the Hampton Inn, where they met even more people, just like them.

"Well we walked in and there was people on the couches and , I lied on the floor," said Madeline Mason.

It was long hours for a worn out hotel staff, but those they served were grateful.

"It was an extra blessing that they let us stay because otherwise we had no where to go," said Victoria Schlumvrecht.

But according to Watkins, they'd do it all over again.

"They need safety and warmth and so we were able to provide that for them so we are really grateful that we were used to do that," said Watkins.

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