The Budgetel Inn on Mack Smith Road is opening up its doors Saturday afternoon to provide shelter free of charge for people fleeing the path of Hurricane Irma.
John Patel of JDH Developers, the owner of the building that has been undergoing renovation for the better part of a year, said he has been granted a temporary Certificate of Occupancy by the City of East Ridge. Patel said he had a crew en route from Atlanta at 11 a.m. EDT to help oversee the effort. Within an hour, the building should be available for temporary shelter.
“This is the least I can do at this time,” said Patel. “We are business men and everyone wants to make money. But, there is a time for everything. There is a time to give, as well.”
Patel said in order for someone to get a free room they will be required to show identification which shows they are a resident of Florida.
He said all 268 rooms in the motel will be made available to give sanctuary for people fleeing the storm. He expects the entire building to be full within a day. Most of the building is about 90 percent complete.
“I’m not worried about a little paint,” Patel said.
Kenny Custer, East Ridge’s Director of Community Services, said city officials are cooperating with the effort of Patel to provide shelter. Custer said a fire inspector and some city staff will be on hand to assist in any way they can.
“Everybody’s on board with this,” said Custer, who has family members making their way up from Florida to avoid the storm. “Rooms in Chattanooga are full because of the Ironman competition.
“We want to do our part to show some hospitality to share the burden during this potential catastrophic event.”
Patel is not only providing a free place to stay. He said that he is working with area Domino’s Pizza restaurants to get food to the people temporarily staying at the Budgetel.