Several southeastern CVBs are preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian, which continued its move north—dangerously close to Florida's east coast—on Wednesday, September 4. As of Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m. Eastern, Dorian was a Category 2 storm.
Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas for approximately a day and a half, causing widespread flooding and “unprecedented damage.” The Associated Press reported that Dorian wasn't moving because the upper atmosphere was too calm.
As of Wednesday, September 4, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, the National Hurricane Center issued an update that Dorian was moving parallel to the northeastern coast of Florida.
Included in its key messages for Hurricane Dorian was the following:
"Rainbands are bringing heavy rain and gusty winds to the southeast U.S. coast."
Planners Should Check Their Meeting Contracts
According to meetings industry attorney Tyra Hilliard, meeting planners with events in areas possibly affected by a hurricane should consider the following precautions:
- Review the force majeure language in your contract carefully. Does it allow you to terminate your contract without liability x days or weeks prior to your meeting if it appears an act of God is going to disrupt normal operations in the city? Or does it only allow a claim of force majeure if the disruption occurs on the day of your meeting?
- Contact your event cancellation insurance provider (if you have this insurance) and discuss possible scenarios for both completely canceling your meeting and reduced numbers. Even if the weather has passed by the time your meeting is held and the city is ready to host your meeting, prospective attendees may be dealing with fallout where they live, flights may be delayed or canceled, and people may be displaced.
Coastal CVBs React to Hurricane Dorian
Visit Myrtle Beach
According to Visit Myrtle Beach, the CVB and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce are keeping a close watch on the tropics during hurricane season. On Sunday, September 1 at 7:30 p.m. it was announced that evacuations were beginning at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, September 2, in Horry County Zone A and Georgetown County Zone A.
As of Tuesday, September 3, Myrtle Beach International Airport is open. The CVB noted that it is the individual airlines' decision as to whether flights are delayed or canceled. All inquiries should be directed to the passenger's individual airline and not the airport.
Visit Myrtle Beach stated passengers should verify their airline has a current phone number and/or email address. Air carriers will notify passengers directly about flight status changes. Prior to coming to the airport, passengers should verify their flight status online.
The CVB recommended that departing passengers arrive at the airport earlier than normal to account for possible airline check-in and TSA checkpoint screening delays.
Georgia governor Brian Kemp issued a mandatory evacuation for all residents and visitors east of Interstate 95 as of noon on Monday, September 2.
Visit Savannah posted the following information on its website:
Westerly contraflow on Interstate 16 will begin at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, September 3, in order to facilitate safe and orderly evacuation. Visitors to the area should follow the governor’s instructions and leave the area until the threat of severe weather has passed.
For more instructions or procedures, visit the Chatham County Emergency Management Agency’s website and follow CEMA on Twitter at @ChathamEMA.
Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB
As of late Thursday, August 29, the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB said it has eight smaller groups scheduled during the possible hurricane period and two have officially canceled (a family reunion and a high school sporting event).
Two family reunions are still holding their events. The rest of the events are still pending.
Visit Orlando issued the following statement from its president and CEO, George Aguel:
“We are currently monitoring Hurricane Dorian and its potential effect on our destination. At this time, we are not aware of any conventions that have been canceled or moved.
“As the No. 1 travel destination in the U.S., safety is our highest priority. The Orlando destination is privileged to have an extraordinary infrastructure of major public and private entities working together to protect the health and safety of our residents and visitors alike.
“Orlando area theme parks, attractions and hotels are currently operating under normal conditions as we continue to monitor the storm. At this time, it is too early to tell what impact it will have on the region, as its track may vary.”
Ahead of the hurricane, Orlando hotelier Harris Rosen offered discounted rates at his eight area Rosen Hotels & Resorts hotels for those affected by Dorian.
Visit Jacksonville issued the following statement:
We are working closely with the City of Jacksonville and our Emergency Operations Center to assist with any requests related to visitors or tourist businesses. We didn’t have any groups scheduled in town this weekend due to the holiday, but we did lose a large neutral-site football game, Florida State vs. Boise State was moved to Tallahassee from Jacksonville.
That would have been a significant visitor generator, but with the timing of the storm it was decided it was best for potential visitors to not be stuck in Jacksonville during the hurricane. Other smaller events have been rescheduled for later dates.
We are as prepared as we can be for upcoming groups, etc. and have already rescheduled some site visits and planning meetings scheduled for next week. We are hopeful the damage is minimal and we can get back to normal business quickly!
The Florida Keys & Key West CVB
The Monroe County Tourist Development Council, which operates The Florida Keys & Key West CVB, said it had no information about cancellations at publication time, and added that officials are continuing to monitor the situation.
The CVB provided the following Hurricane Dorian-related links:
This article was originally published on August 30, 2019, and updated on September 4.
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