The rain has ended and the flood waters have receded, but the nightmare is hardly over for the people of Texas and Louisiana who have been affected by Harvey. Many Houston area schools and large businesses reopened today, as the area tries to deal with the aftermath of one of the US's costliest storms. But with many people still coping with waterlogged homes, places to stay are very much needed. Those with extra rooms are using their space to help their neighbors, through Airbnb's disaster response program.
It's not just Mattress Mack who has a heart of gold, but other neighbors are stepping up to help out: Airbnb put out a call to hosts on Twitter Friday, asking them to open their homes, and they've responded. There are currently over 500 listings for free places to stay for evacuees in the areas around Houston, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Austin, Beaumont, and San Antonio in Texas, and New Orleans and Shreveport in Louisiana.
This isn't the first time the vacation rental platform has turned into a de facto shelter listing site. That was back in 2012 when Sandy tore through the New York and New Jersey area, and they've helped out during disasters since, including last year during the Louisiana and Mississippi floods. Like during past catastrophes, the company is waiving all service fees through September 25 for those offering free stays.
The New York Times reported that hosts that are opening up their homes to victims are receiving overwhelming responses—not just from evacuees, but from people coming to the area to help. "My entire September is booked solid with different people involved in Harvey, including an electrician who is coming into town to help with power restoration in the city," Heather Ayrer told the Times.
"I personally don't have the financial funds to donate as much as I'd like to," another host, Austin resident Edith Flores said. "This is one thing I can do."
The Times reported that the company is also currently responding to the flooding in Mumbai, India.
If you can't offer your home, we've compiled a list of places to donate to to help those affected by Harvey.