GREENSBORO, N.C. — Powerful hurricanes like Dorian can leave many people in need shelter or even homes for long periods of time. Many people are already evacuating from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and even our own coast.
While some of those evacuees are heading north to stay with family and friends, others may not be so lucky - instead, booking hotels or finding disaster shelters.
There is another option: Airbnb's Open Homes Program. It launched over the weekend, and allows homeowners inland to open their doors and offer free rooms to evacuees and disaster relief workers.
"We have not hosted an evacuee yet. But we're ready! We're ready when they come," said Charli Bryan. She's rented out a room in her Greensboro home since March, but now, she's found a new use for it.
"I have family in Florida, and my fiancé is from Louisiana so they've all had to evacuate from hurricanes before, luckily they have family in safe areas so it wasn't a financial burden or anything on them," she said, "Thinking about families that don't have those means or resources really kind of hits home because they've had that experience, so we decided to hop on there."
A couple miles away, Keith Peddie has rented out rooms in his home for the last three years. He says, opening them up to evacuees for free seemed like a no-brainer.
"We get the hurricanes coming through, and I thought, well - we ought to do that," he said, "I think that we should look after the people that are displaced by the hurricane."
Evacuees looking for a place to stay can find an Airbnb host here. Hosts in the regions marked on the map are opening up their homes for free from August 31 to September 16.
The Open Homes service has 1,200 hosts, and counting. Airbnb says it can't guarantee the speed at which you'll be booked. It may be immediate or take a very long time. If you want to be one click here to sign up or donate money to the cause.
In other cases, the program allows users to open their homes for free to medical patients and caregivers traveling for treatment, refugees and asylum seekers, as well as evacuees.
People who sign up to rent out their homes can choose to host one, two, or all three of the aforementioned groups. The reservation will function just like any other Airbnb reservation, where hosts can communicate with guests ahead of the visit. Airbnb also says they'll offer free support for hosts, and the visit will still be covered by Airbnb's host guarantee.
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