FLORENCE, Ore. -- The taffy is stocked, the chowder is piping hot - and after Friday’s tsunami warning, some Florence tourists said souvenirs have a whole new meaning.
“Take a look at this,” said Patricia VanAcker, a first time visitor to Florence. She grabs a navy blue t-shirt from the bag and reads the words across the shirt. “Florence Oregon. Tsunami Evacuation Instructions. Run like Hell.”
It’s a souvenir VanAcker said she will take home - along with a story she won’t forget.
“I heard a blow horn and it said ‘evacuation mandatory’ and I’m, 'What’s going on?' ” said VanAcker.
VanAcker was one of thousands evacuated from hotels and residences early Friday morning as a tsunami warning sent the town scrambling for higher ground.
Police cut off traffic to Old Town Friday. Most businesses closed their doors until officials lifted the tsunami warning.
But on Saturday morning, Old Town opened for business.
Shop owners said that in a town where tourist dollars rule, they need visitors to think Florence is a safe place to stop.
“I think probably the tsunami kind of scared people away a little so we’re trying to get the word out that we’re open and that nothing happened,” said d Mo’s restaurant hostess Roxy Shope.
The city of Florence relies heavily on tourism for their economic viability.
While some say the tsunami may have spooked a couple of tourists away, others say the attention gives Florence a little notoriety.
“First, a lot of people will say Florence, where is Florence?” said resident Steve Brooks. “I think that after the initial fear of the tsunami, I think that people will come out here to see what the excitement was all about.”