A website only a day old may turn out to be crucial to getting displaced New Yorkers without heat and hot water into warm hotel rooms this weekend in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Race 2 Recover NYC, according to its website, was created at 8 a.m. Friday and went live about eight hours later.
The goal: take the hotel rooms reserved by would-be New York City marathon runners and donate those that will go unused. The race was officially canceled late Friday afternoon, but the controversy surrounding it had been raging in the city for days.
So far, Race 2 Recover NYC has received 25 room donations.
The site accepts reservation information for unused hotel rooms and donates the room to those who are currently displaced, or without heat and power. No money changes hands.
About 20,000 unique views were counted on the site within its first three hours after going live.
Race 2 Recover NYC is the brainchild of Conley Downing, who was unsettled by all the press surrounding whether the marathon would go on as planned or if it would be canceled. She decided to instead focus that negative energy into an opportunity to do good for her battered city.
The hotel room receiver must put a credit card number on file to cover any additional hotel charges such as damages that may occur during the time of stay. The website is also specific to displaced New Yorkers only, which is verified by submitting a New York address. Downing said most hotels have been very accommodating with the transfer of the rooms.
Race 2 Recover NYC has possible risks and donors should be aware of this. For example, Downing is not able to confirm those who request a hotel room are actually in need. Moreover, the website is first come, first serve and there is no signed agreement of hotel room transference. But as the site's homepage reads:
"With the cancellation of the 2012 ING NYC Marathon, we know that there are 47,000 disappointed runners across the globe. And in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, thousands of NYC residents have lost power, water, and some have even lost their homes. We can't undo the tragedy that's befallen the New York City area in the past week, but we're here to help find the good amongst the rubble. Marathoners donate their hotel rooms. Sandy's displaced victims get a place to stay. We all win."
Downing is not the only New Yorker determined to get displaced New Yorkers into warm hotel rooms.
On Friday evening, ABC News' Nightline highlighted a Staten Island hotel owner who gave away NYC marathon runners' rooms to Sandy victims, even giving away rooms that had been booked months in advance.
Outside of the city, hotels are offering special rates and promotional codes to Sandy victims. Airbnb has set up a page with discounted lodging for Sandy victims in the city and is waiving all fees on those transactions.