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Free lodging, waived fees and other ways businesses are helping Hurricane Florence evacuees

Updated 1:53 PM ET, Wed September 12, 2018

(CNN) - As Hurricane Florence bears down, with forecasters calling it "the storm of a lifetime," the Carolinas and Virginia have issued mandatory evacuation orders that impact more than 1 million residents.

Wednesday is the "last good day to evacuate," Federal Emergency Management Agency associate administrator Jeff Byard said Wednesday morning, warning that Florence "is not going to be a glancing blow. ... This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast" from Thursday into the weekend.

As evacuees head for safer ground, various businesses are offering their support in the form of free housing, waived fees and other services.

Airlines are waiving baggage and pet fees

Airlines have extended waivers and advisories for travelers with itineraries involving airports in the predicted path of the storm.

American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines have all posted information for travelers online about fee-free changes to affected itineraries this week.

Some airlines also are doing away with their pet and baggage fees for those traveling to and from impacted cities.

U-Haul is offering free storage

U-Haul businesses across Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia are offering free storage for those affected by the storm.

"People are preparing to leave their homes, creating an immediate need for secure locations where evacuees can bring the possessions they wish to protect," said Doug Weston, president of U-Haul Company of Western North Carolina.

For locations, residents can look here.

Phone services are offering free text and data

Verizon and AT&T are offering free calling, texting and data to its customers who live in the areas most impacted by Florence.

Magellan is providing free counseling

Magellan has opened a toll-free crisis line (1-800-327-7451) for anyone affected by the storm and its aftermath. It will offer counseling services and will also direct people to local non-profits.

Many are offering housing

Airbnb hosts opened their homes during hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma. This time it's no different.

More than 200 hosts on the site have already volunteered to house Florence evacuees and relief workers for free.

Campgrounds are also available for those heading inland from coastal areas.

The Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, which hosts thousands of spectators during NASCAR races, are offering their campground spaces.


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