Monday, August 15, 2022

Hosts offer free Airbnbs for those evacuated, displaced by Hurricane Dorian

Those who are displaced, or emergency workers who need a place to stay, can rest their heads easy -- and for free -- thanks to Airbnb’s Open Homes program. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Airbnb)
Those who are displaced, or emergency workers who need a place to stay, can rest their heads easy — and for free — thanks to Airbnb’s Open Homes program. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Airbnb)

When a hurricane or natural disaster rolls through an area, there are certain experiences residents should be prepared for: a mad dash to get supplies from the grocery store and gas station, evacuations and the potential for property damage.

In parts of Virginia, such as Zone A where flooding is more likely to happen, residents are facing the possibility of being evacuated because of Hurricane Dorian. The storm is forecast to drop tropical storm-force winds and rain on eastern Virginia Thursday and Friday.

Those who are displaced, or emergency workers who need a place to stay, can rest their heads easy — and for free — thanks to Airbnb’s Open Homes program.

“Since 2012, Airbnb hosts have helped thousands of people find safe, welcoming places to stay while they rebuild their lives after natural disasters, wars, conflict, and other events,” the Open House page reads. 

In Virginia, there were several $0 Airbnbs for storm evacuees listed around Richmond, Petersburg and Charlottesville as of 11:30 a.m Wednesday.

The homes will be open from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16 only for displaced people and relief workers who have been deployed to help hurricane response efforts, the Open Homes page said.

To find a home, potential guests need to create a free Airbnb account. From there, they can view listings for $0 by clicking “Find housing on a disaster-response page like this.”

The host and guest will then communicate ahead of time to set expectations such as length of stay and price of the home.

Some Airbnb hosts in the southeast are opening their homes for free while Hurricane Dorian remains a threat to the East Coast. 

An Airbnb map marks the area where hosts have opened their homes, including areas in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The homes are all set back from the coast in inland locations.

Airbnb hosts first opened their homes to evacuees during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when New Yorkers were affected by the storm. After that, Open Homes partnered with Airbnb.

Open Homes is not only for those affected by natural disasters. Airbnb hosts can also open their homes for medical stays or refugee housing.

Those with additional questions about Open Homes should visit the Help Center or reach out to us at openhomessupport@airbnb.com. 

Those who need help using Open Homes can also contact Airbnb at 650-249-3242.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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