ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — More than 800 people have opened their homes to relief workers and people displaced from their own homes by Hurricane Dorian through Airbnb's Open Homes program.
Hosts are being asked to open their homes in potentially affected areas along the Southeastern United States for both relief works and evacuees from the now catastrophic storm.
Airbnb said there are about 850 hosts with homes in five states have volunteered to offer free rooms from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16 to help people impacted by Dorian.
Paulette Rolle-Alesnik joined both Airbnb and the Open Home program in 2017 during Hurricane Irma after hearing then-Governor Rick Scott plead with people to open their home.
“So 30 minutes later I am totally signed up, checking the rooms,” Rolle-Alesnik said
She said she was eager to help both those displaced and first responders coming to help.
“So when that happens, the people we need to help us, where are they going to stay? They can’t stay in the rain. So that’s my heart. Let’s help the people who want to help us. And that was one of the things that made me start in the first place,” Rolle-Alesnik said.
She has been a part of the network ever since and has been hoping Airbnb would active it again for Dorian.
The program was activated earlier in the week for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Dorian approached, and was expanded to the mainland Sunday morning.
People in need of a place to stay can create or log into an Airbnb account and can click here to see the rooms available through the Open Homes program.
If you would like to host, you can create a hosting account and click here to sign up. Hosts decide how often they want to open their home and how long guests stay.
The company says it has activated the Open Homes Program 10 times in the United States and U.S. territories since 2012, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Airbnb activated the program during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Tropical Storm Barry earlier in 2019.
"We hope those in need will take advantage of the program and that those who can open their homes will do so in the days ahead,” said Kellie Bentz, Airbnb’s Head of Global Disaster Response and Relief.
For more information about the Open Homes program, click here.
On Sunday morning, Dorian strengthened to a "catastrophic" Category 5 storm with 175 mph as the storm approaches the Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center.
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