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Airbnb reaches out to help travelers affected by Ft. Lauderdale shooting

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Airbnb is activating its local Disaster Response Tool to assist travelers impacted by the shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

On Friday, a lone gunman –  identified as former Army veteran Esteban Santiago, 26 — pulled a gun from checked baggage after landing, loaded it in a restroom and began shooting, killing five people and injuring eight others.

As part of the response, Airbnb is asking hosts to offer housing to displaced neighbors and relief workers deployed to help during the tragedy. Authorities have not yet established Santiago’s motive, and told the press “it looks like he acted alone.”

During times of emergency, Airbnb emails local hosts with information on how to offer extra space to affected community members. Hosts are still covered by the Host Guarantee, and Airbnb’s fees are waived.

“Our hearts and thoughts go out to the community of Ft. Lauderdale and all those impacted by today’s horrific and senseless violence,” Airbnb spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement. “Through the tool, travelers whose journeys have been interrupted or otherwise delayed will be able to connect with local hosts who are opening up their homes at no charge between now and Jan. 9.

“We are hopeful that the Ft. Lauderdale Airbnb community will come together to open their homes for those in need.”

To reserve a listing, or list a space through the tool, visit www.airbnb.com/disaster/ftlauderdale.

“In addition to our hosts,” Shapiro added, “we also want to thank all of the emergency responders and law enforcement personnel who are working around the clock to investigate this tragedy and restore a sense of normalcy at the airport and to the broader community.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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