Hotels reach capacity as residents without power seek shelter

Hotels in the area are reaching their occupancy limit as residents throughout the Rio Grande Valley remain without power and with continued disruptions to their water service.

The Best Western Plus hotel located near the McAllen International Airport has been booked since the power outages began on Monday and don’t have any availability through Thursday.

“People are starting to catch on that there’s no rooms available for today or the following day so they just try to make the reservation for as soon as they can,” said Harvey Hoyuela, the front desk manager for the hotel, regarding when they were likely to have availability again. “So right now we actually have people trying to make reservations for Friday as well so you’re probably looking at maybe the weekend.”

“Everyone’s trying to get a room right now,” he said. “We’re talking about disabled people, families with newborn babies and whatnot trying to find somewhere to stay.”

He added that they were thankful they had power given that there were four or five other hotels just a block away from them.

“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” Hoyuela said. “Thankfully everybody’s been very understanding about everything going on but it does seem that we were very unprepared, not the hotel itself, but the Valley.”

Staff at the DoubleTree Suites in McAllen said the hotel received over 100 calls Wednesday morning from people looking for shelter. However, the hotel has been booked for months with nurses coming in from out of town to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Embassy Suites hotel located near the McAllen Convention Center is sold out for Wednesday and Thursday and has been at capacity since Monday due to the power outages.

The neighboring La Quinta Inn & Suites is also at capacity, though staff there refused to give more information.

As residents flock to hotels, more than 85,000 customers in Hidalgo County and more than 127,000 customers throughout the entire Rio Grande Valley remained without electricity Wednesday evening, according to the poweroutage.us, a website that tracks outages throughout the country.

Millions remained without power throughout the state.

The number of people without power reflected a 27% outage rate in Hidalgo County, a 27% rate in Cameron County, a nearly 35% outage rate in Starr County, and a 28% outage rate in Willacy County.

For people still seeking shelter, the cities of McAllen and Edinburg opened up warming centers that will be open for overnight stay.

The Dustin Sekula Memorial Library at 1906 S. Closner Blvd. in Edinburg was activated Wednesday as a 24-hour warming center until power is restored in the city, according to a news release issued by the city.

Meanwhile, the city of McAllen opened the Las Palmas Community Center, located at 1921 N. 2th St., and the Palm View Community Center, located at 3401 Jordan Rd., as overnight shelters for Wednesday night.

bereniceg@themonitor.com