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7 inspiring stories to emerge from recent natural disasters
Floodwaters surround a business on U.S. 1 in Rockledge, Florida, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, after Hurricane Irma blew through Brevard County. - photo by Matt Anderson
Over the past few months, the United States, Mexico and nearby Caribbean islands have suffered major natural disasters.

The recent fires in Northern California have killed 23 people with at least 285 people still missing, according to CNN. Nearly 170,000 acres have been burned through the state.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria all made landfall as Category 4 hurricanes. Harvey possibly caused over $190 billion in damages, according to ABC News. Harvey also killed 82 people, as reported by the The Washington Post.

As reported by ABC News, Irma caused around $100 billion in damages, killed 75 people in Florida and ravaged islands in the Caribbean.

For the first time in 300 years, theres not a single living person on the island of Barbuda a civilization that has existed on that island for over 300 years has now been extinguished," Ronald Sanders told USA Today after Hurricane Irma hit.

Hurricane Maria then struck, causing devastation on the islands right on the heels of Irma. The combination of the destructive force of the hurricanes left the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico without power.

There was also a 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City, which killed over 200 people and damaged over 2.3 million homes. And that was after the 8.1 earthquake in southern Mexico that left dozens dead. A 6.1 earthquake followed on the heels of the 8.1 earthquake in the same area.

Though there has been incredible damage and loss of life, there has also been light amidst the darkness. Collected here are a few of these stories that have caught national attention.

Airbnb offers free housing for victims of natural disasters, including California wildfires

Airbnb has activated its Open Homes program for those who have lost their homes in the California fires. The program waves booking fees for victims of natural disasters and other calamities. The company is asking for hosts to donate any spare space for those displaced by the fires to stay while they get back on their feet.

During Hurricane Irma, Xeryus and Letroi Miller, a family with two children, and Xeryus Millers brother all got an Airbnb for free while they fled Florida, according to ABC News.

The family from Jacksonville, Florida, was looking for a place to stay during the hurricane. Everything was booked solid in the surrounding states.

The group eventually found a listing for a condo in Indiana, ABC News reported.

And the owner of the condo, Brandon Thompson, decided to waive the familys rental fee.

They said things were kind of tight with them not knowing what was going to happen, and hes in the Navy, hes military, so it just seemed like the right thing to do, Thompson told ABC News. I was in a position where I could do it easily, and I knew it would make a big difference for them. It just felt right.

The family was extremely grateful for the generosity of their host, ABC News reported.

We were so happy. I was speechless to be honest, Letroi Miller told ABC News. Its absolutely beautiful, its very comfortable. He made our day. We are very grateful to be here. The kids love it, the dogs love it.

The offer from Airbnb for those who are displaced from the California fires will continue until Oct. 30.

Woman in labor saved by human chain

During Hurricane Harvey, panic set in for one soon-to-be mother, Andrea Smith. who went into labor.

According to People, Smith and her husband expected to drive to the hospital that Sunday morning of the storm to give birth, but they were met with 2-to-3 feet of water outside their apartment.

Luckily, a neighbor of Smith's had contacted a friend who lived near a fire station. The friend commandeered a fire truck and drove to take them to the hospital. More of Smith's neighbors formed a human chain in order for her to make it to the fire truck, People reported.

"We had two miscarriages before this," Greg Smith told People. "We've always wanted a little baby."

Baby Adrielle was delivered safely at the hospital.

Cajun Navy assists in rescue during Hurricane Harvey

The Cajun Navy was formed in 2005 to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, according to CNN. They were neighbors who began helping each other after the storm.

They assembled again once Hurricane Harvey hit.

CNN reported that more than 20 boats had made the trip from Louisiana to Houston, where they were credited with multiple rescues.

One such rescue was of an elderly woman who they had found floating face down in the water, CNN reported.

"Donnie jumped from the vessel (and) brought her up out of the water," Cajun Navy volunteer Joshua Lincoln told CNN's John Berman on "AC 360."

They were able to get the woman out of the flood, resuscitate her and eventually return her to family.

Woman saved by social media

As reported by CNN, a woman was saved by her fast-thinking friend during Hurricane Irma.

Kristina Barneski was trapped in her apartment by floodwaters outside her home. She was unable to open the door and was worried her glass windows would shatter from the rising water, CNN reported.

Barneski had called 911, but first responders couldn't reach her until the next morning which would be too late, CNN reported.

However, she texted her friend Hannah Brown, who took to Twitter to plead for help. Brown tweeted her friends address hoping that someone would come, according to CNN.

And someone did. The Daytona Beach Fire Department, which had seen the tweets, rescued Barneski in time.

Man gives generator to woman in need

ABC affiliate WFTV-TV reported that a man rescued a woman at a Lowe's in Florida as Hurricane Irma approached.

Pam Brekke searched for days for generators so that her father, who is on oxygen, could keep his supply going during the storm.

Brekke traveled 30 miles to a Lowe's that had just received a surprise shipment of generators, WFTV-TV reported. However, upon arriving at the store, Brekke found the last generator being loaded on the cart of another man who was going to make his purchase.

Brekke broke down crying.

Ramon Santiago, the man buying the generator, saw Brekke in tears. Without knowing her situation, Santiago gave the generator to her.

"I'm very overwhelmed by that man," Brekke said. "That gentleman was a great gentleman right there. God will bless that man."

Puerto Rico aids neighbors

Before the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was saved from severe damage from Hurricane Irma, as reported by The New York Times. The surrounding Caribbean islands were not as lucky.

It looked like a forest fire hit it, Julie Reynolds told the New York Times. Reynolds was rescued from the island of Tortola. There were no leaves on the trees. It used to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

It looks like a bomb went off," Luis Duprey, a native of Puerto Rico, said of Tortola to the New York Times.

Many civilians took their boats and brought supplies to nearby islands, as well as transporting people to Puerto Rico for aid, according to The New York Times.

Duprey had borrowed a motorboat to pick up his friend, Yann Leboyer, from Tortola.

Weve enjoyed the beauty and the fun of those islands, Martita Rivera told the New York Times. We only saw the need to say, Were here for you.

Rivera had been a vacationer to the island for over 20 years.

A helping paw

Frida, a labrador retriever rescue dog, has become an icon in Mexico's recovery effort from the earthquake that hit on Sept. 19.

But don't let her long face fool you. She is providing light-hearted moments across Mexico, giving those affected by the earthquake a respite from their problems.

She has generated quite a following on the internet. Her fans have even created money with her image superimposed on it.

Frida is part of a military unit that has been deployed to natural disasters. At other times, she is out in the city involved in rescue efforts. She has been credited with recovering over 50 bodies throughout her career, 12 of whom are still alive.

Frida also assisted in the rescue after the Sept. 7 earthquake that struck southern Mexico. Here is a video released by the Mexican Navy of Frida in action.
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