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September 2005

Our Members Speak Out

Woods Hole Inn, Folsom, LA

This issue is devoted to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. We’ve included comments submitted by the affected innkeepers, along with responses from other innkeepers. 

In October and November, we’ll publish the great comments you sent us on accepting pets at your inn, plus our ongoing series on hosting our brave troops departing or returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many of you wrote to express your support of the Innkeepers' Hurricane Relief Fund Here are a few examples:


·          "Thank you and the entire staff for everything you're doing; this is a great program.  We will be sending the notice to our members. The focus of our monthly Membership Social on September 15 will be this effort for our colleagues in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi."  Dave Taylor, Innkeeper, Cypress House, Chairman, Key West Innkeepers Association


·          Thank you for your e-mail. Brilliant! We would be pleased to join the effort to help Katrina innkeeper victims in this time of dire need. Keep up your wonderful work -- our hats are off to you, Eric, for being such a fine spokesperson for the industry.   Ms. Doris, Resident Manager, Soundview Manor, White Plains, NY


·          “I am reminded of the time when my home burned in 1986 and so many people stepped up to help me - -many of them were people I didn’t even know. Without them, I cannot imagine getting through such an teenaged daughter and I didn't have anything but the clothes on our backs. The strong outpouring of assistance and friendship from so many got us through a really hard time.”  Becky Fain, Inn at Iris Meadows, Waynesville, NC



And here are comments from the affected innkeepers.  Some have lost everything; others are dealing with relatively minor damage. Most New Orleans innkeepers have not yet been able to return to their inns to assess the extent of the damage.  In addition to all other anxieties, most have no access to their records, reservations, credit card equipment, or anything else they use to run their inns.  Some innkeepers are or will be hosting emergency personnel, which will fortunately provide some income in the coming months.


From Mississippi B&Bs:


·          “Thank you for this opportunity to help fellow B&B owners.  Bay Town Inn was completely destroyed and the innkeeper Nikki Nicholson, barely escaped with her life.  The day after the storm, Nikki was on TV, sharing her awful experiences. She, a guest, and her Scottish terrier Maddy survived by hanging onto a tree for three hours before they were rescued.  You’ve provided a way for me to help her … thank you for doing so.”  Judy Geary, Holladay House B&B, Orange, VA

·          And from Nikki herself: “How wonderful to hear of your offer to help.  The Bay Town Inn was completely lost in the was much of our town. I have no idea what to say I need - but appreciate your offer.  Please thank everyone for their prayers...they mean so much.” Nikki Nicholson, Bay Town Inn, Bay St. Louis, MS


·          “What a great thing you are doing! We have lost everything, but we are alive. Two of our employees were injured but will be OK. Amazingly, the inn is still standing, but it is heavily damaged.  Any assistance you can provide would be gratefully accepted. The owner does want to keep the Blue Rose alive since it is now one of the only remaining historic homes in our town.  Thanks so much for you kind efforts and thoughts.” Mary Ranson & Helen Gaines, Innkeepers, Blue Rose Inn, Pass Christian, MS


·          “Thank you to all the innkeepers helping those of us who have lost everything.  We were very badly hit.  Our 1837 beachfront historic home was located within walking distance from the Beau Rivage Casino.  Unfortunately, we have lost everything other than our lives, our dogs and our car.  All personal and business belongings have been washed away, including many antiques, art works, furnishings, heirlooms, our truck, and our classic 1947 Chris Craft mahogany runabout.  This was our home and our livelihood and is irreplaceable.  Our future is uncertain, as illness will force us to live on Social Security and disability payments. Any assistance to help us get back on our feet will be greatly appreciated.”  James & Patricia Dunay, Santini-Stewart House B&B, Biloxi, MS



From Louisiana B&Bs:


·          “Our B&B was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  We're not sure what the future holds for us at this point, but we'll be fine.  See our website   for photos of the storm aftermath at our B&B.” Sam & Marsha Smalley, Woods Hole Inn, Folsom, Louisiana


·          “Although we lost trees, foliage, and our gazebo, our century-old home survived. The first few days were chaos; no agencies here yet.  I began cooking food I had stored in the freezer and put the word out to a nearby radio station and posted a notice at city hall and police station.  In addition to the 24 people staying in our two-guest room B&B, we fed anyone who came to the door two hot meals a day for four days.“  Lee Collins, Hughes House, Hammond, LA


·          “Your offer of help is greatly appreciated. We have no clue as to the damage of our home, but we are hoping for the best.  The big issue for the moment is the curtailment of business and although we have some insurance for rising waters and wind, there is no coverage for loss of business, medical insurance, housing, transportation, and paying all the normal bills. Thank you and God bless you.”  Joe & Bebe Rabhan, Avenue Inn B&B, New Orleans, LA


·          “Thank you for organizing a Hurricane Relief Fund And a big thank you to the innkeepers who are helping with donations, and letters of encouragement. The positive energy IS being felt! Right now, as difficult as this sounds, is the easy part...going back, and rebuilding, is going to be the most challenging. We're feeling it already. It's going to be a challenge to fight the big entities who want to turn New Orleans into a theme park. New Orleans has a culture and music scene, and stunning architecture that needs to be preserved more than ever! We are going to have to ensure that this continues. For example...our cottage has been around for over 200 years. It needs to be around long after we are gone.

So what can we innkeepers do?  For now, getting the word out about our B&Bs, and also contributing to the funds for innkeepers would be most helpful.  We (most of us B&B owners) do not have a lot of money or a corporation to help us rebuild our homes/businesses. The New Orleans B&Bs are in serious danger more than ever now, as the big hotels may be able to rebuild faster than we are. The best way to help out is to spread the word, once we are open, and encourage people to stay at B&Bs rather than hotels. New Orleans B&Bs are the "charm" that decorates the neighborhoods, and let tourists experience a little more of New Orleans culture than they would see staying at a large chain hotel. I know this rings true for B&Bs everywhere. Also, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. That helps.  It's amazing how much people can bend, yet not break.  We are built pretty darn tough! So we all go on, and laugh when we can, and smile, and continue to enjoy life…just when you think you can't go on anymore. Thank you again for all your help. It helps to feel we are not alone.” Rachel & Eric Walton, Bohemian Armadillo Guesthouse, New Orleans (Click here to listen to Rachel’s interview with Liane Hansen, Weekend Edition, National Public Radio.


·          “Thank you for your concern and offers of assistance. It was great to receive your e-mail and hear of your plans to offer assistance to the affected innkeepers. The good news is that we are safe. We weathered the storm in New Orleans.  Electrical power to the city was lost early Monday morning; we lost most of our roof during the storm and it was ‘raining’ inside the house.  When the levee broke on Tuesday morning and the flood waters started to rise, we left town.  We are temporarily staying with friends in Lake Charles. These wonderful people stayed at our B&B several times, and originally found us through Bed and Thank you for the suspension of our dues and for any other relief efforts which become available.  We will keep you posted as to when we will again be welcoming guests to our home.” Matthew Harring & Lynn Stetzer, Crescent City Guest House, New Orleans, LA


·          “Easton House B&B was destroyed in the hurricane. Please give my thanks to all the B&B owners who want to help.” Robert Novak, Easton House, New Orleans


·          All the innkeepers you represent in the New Orleans area are homeless and jobless. We thank you for your plea to our fellow innkeepers.  We will keep you posted of the status and progress of our inn as soon as we know more. Any additional relief that you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to everyone for their concern and compassion.” Glen Miller & Randy Saizan, HH Whitney House, New Orleans


·          “I stayed for the Hurricane, but left when the waters continued to rise and the looting started. I hope you'll be able to post information about some of the other innkeepers in New Orleans. It is so hard to find out if people are OK. I appreciate all of your efforts and thoughts for me and the other innkeepers.“  Dorothy Ott, Henry Howard House Inn, New Orleans


·          Thanks so much.  We're overwhelmed. La Maison Marigny did not flood, thank goodness.  Our courtyard area was finished in August and was gorgeous, but has been destroyed.  We had water leaks that ruined custom furnishings and more, but the building is still standing.  We have ‘water exposure’ which is worrying since we can't fix that until the National Guard lets us back in.  What a mess!   And who knows about looting since we're in the Quarter. Thanks for your offer of help and the extension of our membership.  It means a lot.” John Ramsey, La Maison Marigny, New Orleans

·          ”Thank you for all of the wonderful sentiments and concern you have expressed for us, our staff, and Maison Perrier. We had intended to stay in New Orleans, as did the guests still in the inn, but we came to our senses and declared a mandatory evacuation at 7:00 a.m., August 28. We had just enough time to board up, grab some clothes and our four dogs, and hit the road. As we had guests who had no transportation, we lent one of our cars to two couples and two infants. Some of our employees and their families lost everything in the storm, and are living in difficult circumstances; any relief funds that we receive will be passed along to them.  Although we can’t be sure, it appears that our inn is dry and in good condition. Again, your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated by us, our staff, and their families. Thank you in advance for your generosity and concern.” Tom Schoenbrun, Maison Perrier, New Orleans


·          Thanks for your prompt relief offer. My business is of course affected. Although satellite maps don’t show any flood damage, I have no information on wind or looting damage. And of course there is the "business" damage of having to cancel guests, presumably at least until after Christmas!!” Carl Smith, The Burgundy, New Orleans, LA



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