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Bays Mountain, Aquatic Center free for hurricane evacuees

Matthew Lane • Sep 14, 2018 at 9:27 AM

KINGSPORT — If you’ve had to evacuate from the East Coast because of Hurricane Florence, the city of Kingsport is doing its best to make you feel welcome.

Earlier this week, Visit Kingsport announced that the Kingsport Aquatic Center, Bays Mountain Park and the Kingsport Carousel would offer free admission to hurricane evacuees. All you have to do is show your out-of-state or military ID, and you can enjoy an afternoon of swimming, hiking and riding the carousel.

“(Evacuees) have had to leave their homes, so we want them to feel as welcome as possible while they’re here and provide them a good experience,” said Lara Potter, associate director of Visit Kingsport. “We want to get their mind off of this for a little while, to get out and experience Kingsport while they’re here. And obviously we want them to come back and visit again, just under better circumstances.”

Though there’s not a firm number on how many evacuees have come to the Tri-Cities to avoid Hurricane Florence, some folks have already made their way to Kingsport. Potter said Visit Kingsport has been fielding calls this week from people who want to help.

“This community always steps in and wants to help out,” Potter said. “I hate that the hurricane happened, but I always like to watch what this community does in being helpful.”

The National Hurricane Center’s best guess is that Florence would come ashore as early as Friday afternoon near the North Carolina-South Carolina line. The storm would then likely hover along the coast on Saturday before moving inland toward the Appalachian Mountains.

About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million more live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said.

Earlier this week, Visit Kingsport reached out to eight local hotels to prepare for incoming guests from the affected areas. A number of local churches and charities have also indicated their willingness to help their displaced neighbors from the East Coast.

BOY SCOUTS

Effective immediately, the Sequoyah Council, Boy Scouts of America will be offering Camp Davy Crockett to any evacuees who need a place to stay during the storm. Camping cabins are available to families and RVs are welcome as well. Evacuees can call Ronald Cameron at (423) 306-7051 for more information.

RED CROSS

The American Red Cross is preparing for a large relief effort across multiple states as Hurricane Florence continues its march toward the East Coast. This is a dangerous storm and the Red Cross urges people in its path to obey evacuation orders and get ready now.

Here in Tennessee, the Red Cross is working with partners and government officials to assess the needs of hurricane evacuees as well as state residents who may be impacted by flooding.

On Thursday morning, the Tennessee Red Cross opened three shelters for evacuees, with the closest one being at Crossroads Christian Church (1300 Suncrest Drive, Gray).

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