Although a massive storm is still days away from striking the U.S. mainland, the kind spirit of Americans was already bubbling up to help avert crisis.
Citizens and organizations are flooding social media with offers of assistance to residents in evacuation zones in the Carolinas and Virginia as a menacing Hurricane Florence plows closer to the coast.
The blockbuster storm, which is expected to bring historic levels of rain and flooding to already saturated areas, could make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Thursday.
Two Facebook groups – Hurricane Florence 2018 and Hurricane Florence Lodging For Evacuees – have sprung up to provide information and offer shelter to some of the more than 1.5 million people under mandatory evacuation orders.
The lodging group, which had 2,600 members as of Tuesday afternoon, offered links to available hotels and other forms of shelter and promised "no price gouging."
The Florence page offered posts on everything from road conditions to shelter options to updated evacuation orders. Some pre-evacuation tips came from storm veterans: take photos of every room in your house for insurance purposes; store valuables in the dishwasher.
Twitter was also filled with disaster plans for pets, lists of pet-friendly hotels – and even emergency housing options for horses and livestock.
Elsewhere, the Atlanta Motor Speedway said it was opening its campsite to evacuees free of charge as it did during Hurricane Irma a year ago. The campgrounds can handle thousands of campers during its annual NASCAR weekend, the speedway said. A limited amount of spaces with water, power and sewer would be available for $20 a night.
The Charlotte Motor Speedway also said it was welcoming evacuees heading west or fleeing inland. Evacuees will have access to bathhouse facilities on speedway property and accommodations would be available as long as possible before Florence makes landfall, officials said.
"While the Charlotte area is not completely out of the region that could face the effects of Hurricane Florence, for many of our neighbors to the east it is a safer alternative or a good stopping point as they seek shelter elsewhere," said Greg Walter, executive vice president of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Ten U-Haul companies across the Carolinas and Virginia were also providing evacuees with 30 days of self-storage and container usage at 94 facilities. “People are preparing to leave their homes, creating an immediate need for secure locations where evacuees can bring the possessions they wish to protect,” said Doug Weston, president of U-Haul Company of Western North Carolina.