As Hurricane Florence barrels toward the southeastern region of the United States, various Airbnbs and hotels are going the extra mile to house and accommodate evacuees and relief workers.
The Category 2 storm is expected to bring catastrophic flash floods, potentially life-threatening storm surges, tropical storm-force winds, and even tornadoes along its path.
Over 10 million people across the Carolinas, Virginia and surrounding region were under hurricane watches or warnings Thursday. Hundreds of thousands have been ordered to evacuate.
To that end, Airbnb has launched their Open Homes Program offering “displaced neighbors and relief workers” a safe place to stay through the worst of the storm.
“It allows our hosts to offer their spaces free of charge to anyone who’s been displaced or needs to evacuate or is deploying in the area to help with relief efforts,” Kim Rubey, global head of social impact and philanthropy at Airbnb, told WTOP.
Similarly, hotels through the region where Hurricane Florence is expected to strike have waived cancellation fees and are allowing pets to stay for free.
Marriot Hotels and the Intercontinental Hotel Group (whose portfolio includes Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Kimpton) have waived cancellation fees and relaxed pet stay rules throughout the Southeast, USA Today reports. Many smaller, local inns through the area are also following suit, according to the outlet.
“We are seeing a major increase in demand and doing our best to accommodate guests and employees that are being impacted along the coast,” Maggie Giddens, a G6 Hospitality director, told USA Today. “Right now, we are already expecting limited availability in the Carolinas after a mandatory evacuation was signaled in areas of South Carolina where we have multiple locations.”
Thousands of flights, too, have been delayed or canceled ahead of the storm.
Florence is expected to crawl near or along the coast of the Carolinas through Friday, potentially stalling before reaching a technical landfall. The stall is likely to batter the region with prolonged rain, wind and surge, dumping 20 to 30 inches of rain on both Carolinas before swirling over the Appalachian Mountains.
Catastrophic flash flooding and even tornadoes are expected in southeastern Virginia and eastern North Carolina.
Fox News' Amy Lieu, Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean and the Associated Press contributed to this report.