In 2007, the United States of America was hit by hurricane Felix and now the category 5 Atlantic hurricane called Hurricane Matthew is more powerful and deadly tropical cyclone. It has caused catastrophic loss of lives and wrought destructions while crossing the Western Atlantic.
The rescue service by the rental platform
The online rental platform, Airbnb rolled out a new program in response to the destruction caused by the hurricane by offering free stay for the people fleeing the category 4 hurricanes. The disaster response program is active in South Carolina and Florida, where 2 million people are ordered to evacuate the place.
In central Florida, around twenty-four Airbnb properties offered free stay for those in need by the hosts and the company also sent emails to the hosts regarding the details of how to help the residents by providing shelter. The company has waived the fees and covered the Host Guarantee.
This disaster management program was established in 2013 and was kicked during the devastation of hurricane Sandy and during the Louisiana floods. The head of the global disaster relief was established by Kellie Bentz after the disaster caused by hurricane Katrina. The program helps the communities during the time of needs.
Disaster response program in Florida
Tallahassee is the capital of Florida was one of the worst hit areas by the hurricane Matthew and the people were suffering for shelter. According to the private rental property website, there are one hundred and fifty-one rental properties registered in the capital of Florida.
The rental platform asked many of the hosts in the cities around the world to open their vacation properties for the people affected by the storm and the company offered the rooms for free in Florida and South Carolina.
The storm originated from the tropical wave that emerges off Africa on Sept 22, and it became a tropical storm after approaching the Windward Island on Sept 28 and due to the explosive intensification of the storm, it became the Category 5 hurricane on Sept 29. The hurricane caused landslide in Tiburon Peninsula of Haiti and it emerged into the Windward Passage and the Gulf of Gonâve before the second landfall in the eastern part of Cuba.
The intensity of the hurricane weakened due to the landfall but gained its strength in the Bahamas. Later on Oct 7th and 8th, the intensity decreased as it paralleled the coast of the southeastern US and caused minimal landfall in South Carolina and on Oct 9th the hurricane became the extra tropical cyclone.
The damage caused by the hurricane is about one billion American dollars and at least one thousand lives were lost in Haiti and caused eighty percent loss in Jèrèmie. About ninety-five percent of the houses sustained damage in Holmes Rock and Eight-mile rock. Since the storm passed to the east, one million lost power in Florida and four hundred and seventy-eight thousand lost power in South Carolina.
The spokes person of the rental property, Nick Shapiro said that the company has plans of expanding their disaster management plan in the coastal areas of South Carolina and Florida.
The people who were affected by the hurricane were able to receive immediate accommodation with the help of the disaster management program from Oct 11th and the company asked all the hosts in South Carolina and Florida to aid with homes or rooms for the evacuees in those areas.
Some of the areas in Florida that were prompted for immediate evacuation like the Martin, Brevard, Indian River countries, Volusia and Palm Beach and some parts were allowed voluntary like Flagler, Miami-Dade, Broward, and St.Lucie.
Shelters provided by the hosts
Many other rental property websites apart from Airbnb have helped in securing the people with shelters. The online travel brands like Visit Florida and Expedia also offered help by providing the hotel rooms for the evacuees.
The online rental platform informed the people those who were not affected by the storm to list their homes so that they can accommodate the people those who are in need of help.
The company also encouraged many new users to join the platform so that they can cover as many people as they can. The people registered in the online forum and there were many rental properties that were listed on the website with zero dollar payment, some were rooms that were part of a big house while the others were private property.
Some of the students those who have come from foreign countries to study in Florida Institute of Tech have not experienced these kinds of storms in their country. When they were forced to evacuate their hostels, the students were headed to the north of the capital city and they were not sure of the accommodations, but the rescue team of the rental site rescued the students safely and provided them with shelter.
Deputy director of public affairs, Piers from the Sachs Media group said that he had a townhouse in San Luis, to the northwest of Tallahassee were hosts on the rental site, they would rent their private property for the guests, but this was an emergency situation where they were not aware of the accommodation beforehand. But since they wanted to help the people, they rented the property for the evacuees.
Similarly, realtor and broker, Dedra Mitchell said that they received several calls and messages regarding their listed property in the Meridian street townhouse. It is a 3 bedroom property that is mostly rented during the Florida state games. And Jennifer Dunsby’s house is rented for the events and parent weekends, but for the first time was used as an emergency shelter for the people affected by the hurricane Matthew. Many people came forward and helped in renting their properties for free.
Airbnb is the leading home stay network and private rental property that enables the owners to list their private property on the website and the travelers and the tourists can book the rental properties for a temporary stay.
The services fees are collected from both the hosts and the guests registered on the website and it has more than two million listings on its website in thirty-four thousand cities in one hundred and ninety-one countries across the world.
The company has its headquarters in San Francisco, California and was founded in August 2008.
The company asked its hosts to open doors for the people affected by the hurricane in Florida and South Carolina and they provided free accommodations for them.
The website even asked the people to join the online marketplace to help in the rescue program. The company established their disaster response program in 2012 when the people were affected by the storm Sandy and they continued their rescue operations year after year. It contributed to a lot even in 2014 when the country was devastated by the storm.
The storm that affected this year brought major losses when compared to the losses that happened in the previous years and has affected many parts of the country. The estimated amount of loss is calculated to be $5.2 billion American dollars.