The Young family of Stony Brook arrived at 9 p.m. on Monday night after a tree squashed two bedrooms and a bathroom at their Lotowana Lane home.
Laura Smith and Peter Flaherty were meant to fly home to London on Sunday evening, but their flight was canceled, leaving them stranded in the States, albeit in a very nice hotel.
Liz Leis, a San Diego native currently living in Rocky Point, arrived with her young daughter around 10:30 a.m. on Monday, saying they "didn't want to chance it."
And a Strong's Neck family (who declined to give their names) arrived on Sunday evening after the Town of Brookhaven ordered a mandatory evacuation of low-lying coastal areas.
Thus, the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook became a de facto hurricane shelter, full of families from Three Village and beyond seeking respite from one of the most powerful storms in recent memory on Long Island.
"We were happy just to get out of the house," said Brent Young, who called his family's circumstances "very fortunate" that no one was hurt when the tree crashed down on their home and that the already-packed hotel had space available for them.
By Monday afternoon, there was a waiting list for accommodations at the 145-room hotel. Rates at the various types of rooms jumped up to around $200 per night, and for customers who didn't make previous accomodations, one night stays were all that was being permitted to allow customers on the waiting list a night of shelter.
Folks could be seen hanging out in the lobby with laptops, cellphones, and other electronic devices plugged in, while kids and teens relaxed in the indoor pool.
The hotel's owner, John Tsunis, said the hotel had become a community united by common circumstances.
"The early inns from the middle ages were the crossroads of the community, where people would visit with each other and find out what's going on," Tsunis said. "It's nice to see people pulling together and being nice to each other instead of being a little on the rambunctious side."