Helping Hurricane Matthew Evacuees

Friday, October 7, 2016

As Hurricane Matthew batters the southeast U.S. coastline, preparations and warnings have been put in place to help any and all of the 12.8 million people bracing for the monster storm.

Officials have urged people on the front lines to prepare for the worst and take all evacuation warnings seriously.

Twitter and other social media platforms have reached out to everyone in the expected storm zones with the hashtag #Pray4Florida.

One major growing concern for evacuees, aside from preparations such as sandbagging and stocking up on food and water, is where to stay.

Hotels are rapidly filling up with people fleeing their homes on the Atlantic coast and working to help people find refuge.

"We're doing our best to try to accommodate everybody because we know it's something they can't help," said Angie Stroupe, the manager of Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina.

As hotels hit maximum capacity, managers like Stroupe help by calling other hotels for additional room.

"We got all these people coming in from the coast and we're trying to get them rooms available," she said.

Online rental platform Airbnb has created a disaster response tool that helps connect evacuees with hosts offering free housing to any displaced neighbors in the affected areas of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

The support online and in the local communities has proven to be strong.

Jay Huffstatler, a spokesman for the American Red Cross, said, "We have folks that show up at the office and want to get their hands dirty and get really involved in the trenches of what we do."

Huffstatler said people can help by making a financial donation or signing up to volunteer.

"There are several different chapters across the U.S. right now that are doing what we call, "Just in Time Training,'" Huffstatler said. "We're teaching folks about how to shelter residents at a Red Cross shelter so that you have that expertise so that you can be able to help in your local community."

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