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. (Southside Daily/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.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.