Louisiana

Airbnb Helps Flooding Victims and Volunteers While Louisiana State Rep Wants More Red Tape

If the government can't do disaster recovery as well as the private sector, could it at least not make things any harder?

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Daniel Landry/ZUMA Press/Newscom

When torrential rain left thousands of Louisianans homeless last month, hundreds of volunteers flooded into the state to help pick up the pieces.

And when those volunteers needed a place to stay—along with some flood victims who were unable to return to their homes in the wake of the disaster—it was Airbnb that helped to answer the call. The room-sharing service waived all service fees for rooms in Louisiana and allowed individual property owners to rent rooms for free in the weeks after the flooding—essentially turning Airbnb into an online marketplace for free bedding when a warm place to sleep was most important.

"We have an ability to help people, at least in the short term, to get a comfortable bed, a home-cooked meal ? which is a very different experience from what they'd get in a shelter," Airbnb spokesman Nick Shapiro told The Huffington Post.

Shapiro said at least 180 Airbnb users took advantage of the free posting option, which remained live until the first week of September—about three weeks after flooding caused by biblical rainfall (one part of the state recorded 31 inches of rain in less than two days) killed 13 people and left more than 20,000 homeless.

It's not the first time Airbnb activated its disaster response tool, which first launched in the wake of the so-called "superstorm Sandy" that hit New York City in 2012. The company has used the disaster response option to waive all fees and allow for free rentals on at least 20 occasions, the Huffington Post reported.

The speed and generosity of Airbnb's response to the flooding in Louisiana (or after Sandy) stands in stark contrast to government-led disaster recovery efforts. After Sandy, it took four days for the first FEMA relief center to be operational—and then it ran out of water on the first day. Poor distribution networks left thousands of gallons of FEMA-provided gasoline in places where it wasn't needed while people in other parts of the New York metro area experienced shortages.

Louisiana is no stranger to the good intentions and questionable results of federal disaster recovery efforts, of course. There was no Airbnb when Hurricane Katrina hit the state in 2005, but it was another private sector business—Wal-Mart—that stepped in to provide valuable supplies along a better distribution network than FEMA had.

"While state and federal officials have come under harsh criticism for their handling of the storm's aftermath, Wal-Mart is being held up as a model for logistical efficiency and nimble disaster planning, which have allowed it to quickly deliver staples such as water, fuel and toilet paper to thousands of evacuees," the Washington Post reported at the time.

That shouldn't really be surprising. After all, successful businesses survive by getting people the things they need when they need them. Wal-Mart is always going to be better at providing supplies after a disaster because it practices doing that (albeit with lower stakes) every single day. The same is true with Airbnb when it comes to providing people with a place to sleep—it has already built the online network necessary to connect people, and it has access to millions of users who are already willing to open their homes and bedrooms to strangers. After Sandy, and in anticipation of future storms, Airbnb sent hurricane preparedness information to 100,000 users in states bordering the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

No matter how many fake disaster drills FEMA runs, the bureaucrats overseeing the federal response to floods and fires will never be able to replicate that.

In Louisiana, some state lawmakers actually want to make things worse. State Rep. Jonathan Perry, R-Lafayette, has introduced a bill requiring volunteers to have government-issued permission slips before they would be able to help with disaster recovery. Perry's proposal would require training and certification for so-called "Good Samaritans" like the "Cajun Navy" that provided boats to help flood victims evacuate and rescue some of their belongings.

If the government can't do disaster recovery as well as the private sector, could it at least not make things any harder?

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  1. State Rep. Jonathan Perry, R-Lafayette, has introduced a bill requiring volunteers to have government-issued permission slips before they would be able to help with disaster recovery.

    Now, this fine legislator has covered this. He’s simply trying to make sure that local law enforcement doesn’t get in the way of volunteerism, and obviously the best way to accomplish that is to regulate the volunteers and not local law enforcement.

    1. “The intent of what I want to do is to completely un-regulate it to where our volunteers are not stopped from going out,” Perry said in the video. “What’s happening is, it’s all getting twisted around like I’m trying to put a fee on it. I’m trying to tax it. I’m trying to require a permit.”

      Perry goes on to say if nothing changes, that is, if no legislation is passed, volunteers, like members of the Cajun Navy, will continue to get stopped and be prevented from attempting to rescue people, because, under current law, citizens who cross barricades or perimeters set-up by law enforcement face punishment for breaking the law.

      Laudable intentions, but maybe instruct your goddamn police to quit being dumb fucking shitheels instead.

      1. instruct your goddamn police to quit being dumb fucking shitheels instead.

        That would be like instructing water to stop being wet.

      2. That would DEFINITELY piss off the police unions.

      3. I don’t know about that! Many of my relatives, that work as law enforcement, have more common sense than that! They are actually committed to helping people! But, they would be working with friends and relatives, that lived in the county. That is why the lawmaker’s idea would be more disruptive, that helpful. They just need to keep out of the way!

  2. Brilliant move. This is not going to turn out well for the statists.

    1. Is it considered a tax write-off if they offer to subsidize rates up to a certain amount?

  3. If the government can’t do disaster recovery as well as the private sector, could it at least not make things any harder?

    Are you nuts?? you can’t let people go around thinking they can just help themselves (or each other). They need permission!! Better to drown entire populations than have anyone in power admit they’re not necessary.

  4. Why no, no it cannot. The inexorable logic of power is that it must be exercised. Worse, it must be *seen* to be exercised.
    Excuses, rationalizations, “reasons” are all post hoc.
    It’s all about the power, which is all about control.
    You can only do what *we* approve.
    Because that’s who we are.

    1. Shirley you can’t be serious.

  5. RE: Airbnb Helps Flooding Victims and Volunteers While Louisiana State Rep Wants More Red Tape
    If the government can’t do disaster recovery as well as the private sector, could it at least not make things any harder?

    This only makes sense. The private sector should never help people in need. Only The State should be permitted to help those who are suffering. This way more tax dollars can be extorted from the little people, the politically connected can get richer off said tax dollars and our obvious betters suppressing us will be able to oppress even more. As an added plus, the very people who The State is trying to help will continue to suffer because of miles of red tape, needless laws and suffocating regulations while attempting to administer much need relief. Nothing but good will come from mandatory government assistance as it always has in the past.

  6. OT, so George Clooney has gotten himself into what we armchair historians call a “foreign entanglement” and now he’s suffering blowback as a direct result of his meddling.

    A regime that he was instrumental in putting into power by repeatedly touting as “the good guys” has turned out to be one side of a very bad coin, and now Clooney is involved in an attempt to unravel this quagmire that has his fingerprints all over.

    A fucking actor– who pretends to be other people on TV, has personally engaged in foreign policy chess and has about as much success as real politicians have had: Negative and unintended consequences with a trail of bodies for his trouble. And now, NOW he’s spinning the whole thing as a “discovery” of what’s driving the conflict. Which if you read between the fucking lines is the same fucking thing that drives every goddamned civil war between two power-hungry despots.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-37338432

      1. If it’s OT, does it matter which thread it’s in?

        Oh, you wanted people to see it…

        Nice info, nevertheless.

      2. If it’s OT, does it matter which thread it’s in?

        Oh, you wanted people to see it…

        Nice info, nevertheless.

    1. You are worfress, George Crooney.

  7. The primary purpose of government is to hinder private enterprise. Rep. Jonathan Perry needs to find a life.

  8. AirBnB and Walmart should circulate State Rep. Jonathan Perry, R-Lafayette’s idea to their lists. I’m sure he’ll appreciate having his proposal shared with the public. It’s about time businesses turn toward voters and consumers for an ally, instead of toward government, but in this case, they’ve nothing to lose by publicizing Perry’s idea for him.

  9. Teach cops not to dick!

  10. The government shit tard rears its head which is the same thing as its anus. People wonder “why I hate the government so much” and I point to stuff like this as a example. If people drown and die for lack of help, their to fucking blame but they’ll never admit, I hate these bastards from the bottom of my soul, i wouldn’t shed a tear if each one of these politicians, bureaucrats, government workers etc. got sunk to the bottom of this flood.

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