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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — No one was checking in, everyone was checking out of the more than half-century-old Deauville Hotel on Miami Beach’s Collins Avenue Tuesday.
The evacuation came after a generator cable to a back-up air conditioning unit shorted, causing power to the hotel to be cut off and fire alarms to sound.
Seventeen stories went dark as the hotel was evacuated. Some guests went to the roof, lying on pool lounges, but not appearing to be very relaxed.
The lobby became an impromptu dormitory, covered with guests lying on blankets. A woman and her child lay on the sidewalk out front. It was an exhausting, stifling evacuation.
“We are very upset. There is no ventilation in the stairs. There’s nothing. You can die there,” said Jessica Fernandez, a hotel guest.
No one died, no one was injured as the hotel cleared out 800 guests from 300 rooms, escorting small groups through the dark building. There were a lot of steps to climb.
“Sixteen flights to get downstairs, back up 16 flights, then back down 16 flights,” said guest Marvel Person after he and his wife retrieved their things.
Genesis Gonzalez was in from New York with her boyfriend.
“It’s horrible, horrible. We came here to spend our birthdays together and it was just horrible,” Gonzalez said.
Some missed their flights out.
“We have to leave. We were supposed to leave. We have all our things in there,” said Gisele Farfan from Argentina.
The hotel worked feverishly to help the displaced as best it could.
“We are relocating them to other hotels as close as possible and obviously we are comping their stays,” said Deauville Manager Melissa Mervella.
The hotel was paying for everyone’s stay at the Deauville and the remainder of their vacations at other hotels. All vacations are on the house.
It is a house with a storied history. The Beatles made their U.S. television debut on the Ed Sullivan show broadcast from the Deauville in 1964. Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Tony Bennett and many more have performed there. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan have occupied the presidential suite.
Old age, and a short in a back-up generator, were behind the ignominious moment Tuesday for a historic hotel.
The Deauville is expected to reopen in two to three days.