As Paris reeled from a string of terror strikes on Friday night that left tens dead, Parisians opened their hearts and doors to those stranded due to them.
The Twitter hashtag #porteouverte, which means “open door” in English, was being used to offer shelter as authorities urged people to evacuate the streets. The hashtag trended globally, with more than 400,000 Tweets using it, in the few hours since its creation.
“This account will be used for tweeting and retweeting places to stay safe tonight,” said a post from @PorteOuverteFRA, a Twitter handle opened within hours of the attacks.
Dozens of addresses and phone numbers for apartments were being tweeted on the handle, and it was retweeting offers of accommodation from other individuals.
A post from @LaraPlowright, written in mixed English and French, read: “Anyone stuck around gare du nord area, si besoin (if needed) #porteouverte quartier Gare du Nord, peut loger 2-3 personnes (can accommodate 2-3 people).”
Here are some other tweets:
The French response to these attacks shows the power of simple acts of kindness and unwavering resolve #PorteOuverte pic.twitter.com/RteQyZ7Ckn— Aaron Carter Bates (@acarterbates) November 14, 2015
I have a home in 18th, I speak english and french #PorteOuverte #PortesOuvertes— Sarah (@lemaldelinfini) November 14, 2015
My Friends are safe, in a random woman’s home. She’s making them dinner, & preparing beds. Blessed. #PorteOuverte— TK Westfield (@TWestfield) November 13, 2015
Still, some people found the process confusing amid the chaos.
“I’m not using the tag at the moment, but people are stuck in various areas and cannot leave, I hear,” said Alessandra Gargiulio, who was waiting for her landlord’s permission to open up her apartment for the night.
Gargiulio, 24, lives in the 24th arrondissement on the other side of the city from the attacks, but said she could see and hear helicopters and sirens from her apartment. She spoke to Reuters via Facebook messenger.
“We’re super scared here, it’s hell, but we’ll use the tag and it’s worth trying everything,” said Maria Vittoria Zanetti, who had just become aware of the tag. Zanetti, a 23-year-old, was also contacted over Facebook and she was stuck at a friend’s apartment in the 2nd arrondissement.
Both Gargiulio and Zanetti, 23, have used the Facebook Safety Check to let friends know they are safe.
But it wasn’t just people opening their doors for those affected. There were gurdwaras that were open to all those who needed shelter:
Anybody who’s stranded in Paris and needs shelter and somewhere safe, any Sikh Gurdwara (temple) will be happy to accommodate #PorteOuverte— Rohan (@RohanSinghKalsi) November 13, 2015
And then there were others in other parts of the world who opened their doors to those who didn’t want to head into Paris:
Sad day. If any French person is stuck in San Francisco and can’t fly back home, you are welcome in my house. #PorteOuverte— Mohammad Almalkawi (@moh) November 14, 2015
If any #French citizen is #StrandedInUS with an #Albuquerque , #NewMexico layover flight, DM me. I got you. #PorteOuverte— Kevin Laymon (@Kevin_Laymon) November 14, 2015
with inputs from Reuters