I evacuated to Columbus for Hurricane Irma. What should I know about the city?

If you’re new to the city and seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma — welcome, although we wish you were here under better circumstances.

Here is some basic information about what’s in our city and where to find it during your stay.

Are there still hotel rooms available?

Although many hotels here are not completely sold out, officials are saying they expect the city to be completely booked by the weekend. Depending on your family size and any pets along for the ride, you can find a room at one of many hotels in the area.

There are also a smattering of Airbnb’s throughout the city, but availability may be limited.

What is the weather looking like for the next few days?

Across Georgia’s coast, residents are hunkering down for the storm and Governor Nathan Deal has already declared a state of emergency for 30 counties.

Here in Columbus, forecasters are saying we could experience strong winds and heavy rain. One path prediction for Hurricane Irma leads right to Columbus, but forecasters are waiting to see where Irma turns before making judgements.

If we do have severe weather in the area, where are the best places to take shelter?

A Red Cross shelter has been set up at the Columbus Civic Center. Officials still aren’t sure how severe the weather in Columbus will be, but if it becomes serious, any sturdy building away from trees and windows can provide shelter. Large recreation centers around town, such as Frank D. Chester and Psalmond Rd, are on standby as additional shelters.

Another shelter has been opened at Pierce Chapel, at 5122 Pierce Chapel Road in Midland. Contact them in advance at 706-464-6231.

You can stay updated by following the Ledger-Enquirer on Facebook and Twitter where we’ll be sending out new information regularly.

Where are the local hospitals?

Visitors staying in downtown or midtown can visit the Midtown Medical Center, located at 710 Center St. A second option, located about 15 minutes away, is St. Francis Hospital at 2122 Manchester Expressway.

What is there to do around town before the weather hits?

You have a few choices. We have The Columbus Museum featuring multiple art galleries, including an exhibit on history of the city. It’s also free.

If you’re into history, there’s the National Infantry Museum on 1775 Legacy Way. It was featured as the Best Free Museum in America in a USA Today poll and visitors often say it is on the level of Smithsonian Museums in our nation’s capital. It’s free, but has a suggested donation of $5.

For something more on the quirky side, check out the Lunchbox Museum and make sure to get a photo of the metal dinosaur on the roof.

Columbus is home to the world’s longest urban whitewater course and a circuit of zip lines and rope courses that flit over the Chattahoochee River.

UpTown is the main downtown section of the city and has plenty of options for food, shopping and hanging out. The Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University hosts free concerts at Rivercenter for the Performing arts, including a concert from the American Guild of Organists Sunday at 4 p.m.

If you don’t mind driving, you can take a trip to nearby Warm Springs to see the Little White House. There’s also Callaway Gardens which features gardens (of course), a butterfly greenhouse and a beach.

Where can I grab a bite to eat?

The possibilites are nearly endless here. Aside from the many chain restaurants, we have multiple locally-owned spots around the city ranging from pizza to upscale to southern classics. A large cluster of them can be found along Broadway and 12th Street in downtown, but spots are strewn throughout the city.

I need a good cup of coffee. Where can I find one?

Many of the locally-owned shops can be found downtown, like Iron Bank Coffee Company and Fountain City Coffee. About five minutes outside of downtown is Midtown Coffee Shop, whose owner recently showed us how to make the perfect latte, and Yola’s Coffee & Cafe. We also have multiple Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts locations if you’re more interested in having your regular order (use zip code 31901 if needed).

We’ll be updating this list with any major updates visitors should be aware of. Make sure to keep up with us here and on social media for the latest information.

Lauren Gorla: 706-571-8647, @gorla94