Alabamians prepare for Irma evacuees

(WIAT) — Families and businesses across Alabama are getting ready to welcome evacuees from Florida, as Hurricane Irma approaches.

Patients from the Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West were taken to the Gadsden Regional Medical Center Wednesday evening, which is a sister facility.

“Part of what we do every day is taking care of the patients in this community and supporting our sister facilities,” said Corey Ewing, the CEO of GRMC. “So they need us because they’re evacuating the Key West island, so they called us in their time of need and we were definitely glad to help.”

Friday, Birmingham’s Legion Field will host what was supposed to be Florida International University’s first home football game of the season against Alcorn State University.

The City of Birmingham, which has been collecting donations for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, will start an additional drive for Irma’s victims on Monday.

A spokesperson for the office of Mayor William Bell said the city will also prepare to house evacuees, if necessary.

As many Floridians and people along the gulf coast make plans to stay with friends or family in the Birmingham area, Jackie Hale’s dog boarding facility, Canine Country Club in Columbiana, is receiving calls and reservations from people as far as Bonita Springs, Florida.

“I think everybody learned a hard lesson from what just happened in Houston, so I hope people don’t stay because they don’t think there’s a place to take your pet,” Hale said.

Hale said she is offering a discount to Irma evacuees.

“I think everybody wants to help, and everybody wants to do something, so this is something that we can offer,” Hale said. “I can’t give a million dollars to the Red Cross to help down with aid, but this is a little thing that we can do.”

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