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Local businesses, homes open their doors to those affected by Hurricane Irma

Tri-Cities residents open homes,...

As millions of people scramble for shelter, many are expected to make their way up the East Coast. So people in our region are already opening their doors to welcome anyone who may just need a hot meal or a warm bed.

Since Hurricane Irma's path is hard to pinpoint, there's no way to know exactly how many people may come to our region to find shelter. But many are in Johnson City are already prepared to welcome anyone in need.

It all started on Facebook. Dozens of people writing in a group that their homes are open to anyone, trying to get out of Irma's way.

"We're all going to be touched by this storm in some shape, form or fashion," Johnson City mayor David Tomita said. "So certainly our prayers are with everybody involved."

One of those posts was from Tomita.

"It looks like a horrific storm -- and it makes us glad we're nestled here in the mountains," he said.

Scrolling through the page, you can find people not just opening their doors, but also, offering a home-cooked meal or a place to do laundry. Many willing to welcome strangers into their homes. 

"We're proud of our community," Tomita said. "We're a giving, caring humane community."

One of the more unique offers came from the owners of Quantum Leap. They have 71 trampolines that can be used after-hours as beds. 

"There are worse places to sleep," owner Dan Bolton said. "It's a unique experience to sleep on a trampoline.They're very firm. If you like a firm mattress, that's good!"

Owners Dan and Leah Bolton said they've been there before -- stuck in traffic, sleeping out of their car because every hotel was booked. So they know how much something as simple as a bed and a roof over your head can mean. 

"So as people keep driving further North, trying to find a hotel, they know they can stop off 26 and come to Quantum Leap and have a place to stay," Bolton said.

So as millions from Florida and along the coast make their way inland, there are a lot of open doors in the Tri-Cities. And there are a lot of people ready to lend a helping hand. 

"We're talking about a lot of people," the mayor said. "And where they can go is going to be limited. So if they get up this far, we just want them to know they're welcomed here and we'll do everything we can to make them comfortable."

Quantum Leap is also collecting donations of bottled water and other supplies. Anything they don't use will be sent to relief efforts in Florida

And if you know of anyone who may need a place to stay, you can message Quantum Leap directly on Facebook. Or visit the group: "Irma evacuation support in East TN/W NC/SW VA"


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