Midlands Family Opens Heart and Home To Evacuees

News 19's Lana Harris takes us to a family who opened up their home to evacuees.i

Irmo, SC (WLTX) - When backs are up against the wall, South Carolina knows how to come together and lend a helping hand.

That is exactly what some families in the Midlands are doing through Airbnb.

"You know it's scary when you think about having total strangers in your home," said Jeff Norris, an Airbnb host.
 
 With hotels in the Midlands full, Jeff and Kathy Norris put   aside their apprehension, replacing it  instead with their faith.
 
"Our Christian faith is central to who we are, so we pray about it and we said ok we want to open our home up and lets see if we can help with that," Norris said.
 
Using Airbnb, they listed their home on the site to evacuees fleeing from the path of Hurricane Matthew.  They listed their home so evacuees could stay for free. 
 
"We see God has done a great work in our life over the years and so, can we help someone else?" Jeff asked of himself.
 
Turned out, their guests would not be what they were expecting.
 
"Of course, we would expect to have some people who were South Carolinians probably," Norris laughed.
 
They were in for a bit more of a surprise.
 
"No speak English," said Hamilton Costa, one of the Norris' new Airbnb guests.
 
Costa and his wife Mariela Amaral came to South Carolina this summer from Brazil to study English. They have lived in Charleston for just a few months.
 
"We were not expecting a hurricane," Amaral said. "For us in Brazil, it's something that we never experience."
 
The two only brought what they could carry in a little red suitcase.
 
"We knew we had to evacuate our house because it is in between two rivers and we knew it might flood," Amaral said.
 
Patrick and Cynthia Trueb found their way to the Norris' from Myrtle Beach. They were there on vacation all the way from Germany.
 
"We don't really know how to handle it, what we should do, if it was possible to stay at myrtle beach or not," Trueb said.
 
Their one-year-old daughter was the biggest reason they knew they had to go.
 
"For us it's not a big deal, you can [drive] eight hours without any issue, but with her it's not possible to [drive] such a long distance," Trueb said about his daughter.
 
Jeff and Kathy say these three very different families coming together has been nothing short of a blessing.
 
"We've seen God do that a bunch of times, take the things that didn't seem to be the best things, but turn them into real blessings," Jeff Norris said.
 
Blessings that Amaral says she could never repay.
 
"We can only pray for them," Amaral said. "Because we as persons cannot repay them."
 
The Norris' say they will also be taking in two more girls after finding out they slept in a gas station parking lot after evacuating.
 
If you would like to make your home available for evacuees displaced by Hurricane Matthew, you can find the Airbnb link here.


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