In the wake and catastrophic damage of one of the worst storms to hit the Gulf Coast in recent times, one Austin company is trucking out some help for families displaced by Hurricane Ida.
Austin-based online RV rental and outdoor travel marketplace Outdoorsy has shifted its disaster-relief efforts into high gear, providing short-term accommodations for those most in need post-storm, namely Texas’ Louisiana neighbors.
Through its more than 40,000-member community of RV owners, and with some help from its partner RV Housing Group, Outdoorsy is making vehicles available to temporarily house Hurricane Ida refugees.
Coming out of the disastrous storm, more than a million Louisiana residents were without electricity and hundreds of thousands of residents had no running water — something empathetic Texans can certainly relate to after February’s winter storm left much of the state without such basic resources.
“We are devastated by the pictures we’re seeing and the stories we have heard from the aftermath of Hurricane Ida,” says Jen Young, Outdoorsy’s co-founder and chief marketing officer. “The best way we know how to help is to engage our strong community of RV owners and get temporary housing accommodations on the ground for victims of the storm.”
Outdoorsy, which was founded in 2015 and has offices and RV owner communities in Austin and worldwide, says it’s lowering its platform fee structure and teaming up with vehicle owners to provide special rates to hurricane evacuees, and RV Housing Group is working with victims’ insurance companies to cover all vehicle rental expenses at no cost to those in need of relief and temporary housing.
Considering the world has been presented with an onslaught of calamities of late, it’s not surprising Austin businesses and locals are stepping up to help. In fact, in the days just prior to the hurricane making landfall in Louisiana, online housing-rental platform Airbnb announced Austinites were among the thousands of Airbnb hosts who were opening their properties at no cost to temporarily house Afghan refugees fleeing from Afghanistan amid the U.S. withdrawal.
As of Tuesday, August 31, just days after Hurricane Ida thrashed Louisiana before moving up the Northeastern U.S. to wreak more havoc, more than 100 owners from the Outdoorsy community had stepped up to offer their rigs to the cause. But Outdoorsy is hoping to increase its offerings for hurricane refugees.
For RV owners, particularly owners of fifth wheels and travel trailers, who want to help families affected by the hurricane, here’s how to get involved with the relief efforts: Create an RV listing at Outdoorsy.com/list-your-rv and then fill out Outdoorsy’s temporary housing intake form. Outdoorsy owners who already have a listing on the site simply need to fill out the form to make their vehicle eligible for the program.
“In our six years of existence, one of our core values has always been to repay our gratitude in the world,” says Outdoorsy co-founder and CEO Jeff Cavins. “We hope that the efforts of our RV owner community to offer those displaced by Ida a safe place to stay serves as a small token of encouragement to these families as they start to assess the damage and get back on their feet.”