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Bostonians and others rush to support stranded visitors

By Lateef Mungin and Christina Zdanowicz, CNN
updated 11:46 AM EDT, Tue April 16, 2013
<a href='http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-957434'>Andrea Catalano</a>, a freelance photographer, shot this photo about a mile from the Boston Marathon finish line. He wanted to capture the outpouring of support from spectators and people in the area, comforting and assisting runners.
Andrea Catalano, a freelance photographer, shot this photo about a mile from the Boston Marathon finish line. He wanted to capture the outpouring of support from spectators and people in the area, comforting and assisting runners.
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Among the chaos, kindness emerges
Among the chaos, kindness emerges
Among the chaos, kindness emerges
Among the chaos, kindness emerges
Among the chaos, kindness emerges
Among the chaos, kindness emerges
Among the chaos, kindness emerges
Among the chaos, kindness emerges
Among the chaos, kindness emerges
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The blasts left many without shelter as hotels were evacuated
  • Some people posted on websites that they were stranded
  • More than 100 people offered help on one website

If you have a positive story to share from the Boston bombings, please do. Share your experience with CNN iReport.

(CNN) -- They're offering their spare rooms, their couches, their food, their cars -- even their own beds.

A huge wave of strangers is greeting the many visitors stranded by the Boston Marathon bombings with a massive outpouring of support.

"We figure this is the least we can do," said Heather Carey, who offered a couch at the home near Boston University she shares with roommates. "I saw a website with many others offering their spaces like we did. It is awesome to see so many people helping."

The two blasts Monday that left three dead and more than 140 wounded also left countless people without shelter. Investigators turned the heart of Boston into a crime scene, evacuating several hotels. That stranded dozens of visitors, some of them international runners unfamiliar with the area.

An injured man is loaded into an ambulance after two bombs went off near the finish line of the fabled Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15. For the latest details, read CNN's developing news story. An injured man is loaded into an ambulance after two bombs went off near the finish line of the fabled Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15. For the latest details, read CNN's developing news story.
Deadly attack at Boston Marathon
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Photos: Deadly attack at Boston Marathon Photos: Deadly attack at Boston Marathon
Security intensifies across the U.S.
Officials focus on Boston-area apartment

By Monday evening, pleas were posted on several websites.

"Me and my friends lost our phone after the explosion," a woman posted on Reddit. "We are visiting from Korea so our English be not very good. My friend is in the hospital now and they say we can not stay over night in hospital."

Another woman posted: "I have no where to go."

Quickly, the online cries for help were answered. Websites were flooded by Bostonians offering aid. Even though it was unclear how many people were helped, by early Tuesday morning a Facebook page set up for victims listed more than 100 people offering rooms and rides.

Sandeep Karnik pledged his one-bedroom condo near Fenway Park, saying someone could sleep in his bed.

"I can sleep on the couch," said Karnik, 37. "This is unfathomable, terrible. If there is somebody in need, I can take them in."

Karnik said he ran the marathon in 2009 for charity despite a knee injury and being slightly out of shape. He said he would have never finished the race without the support of strangers cheering him on and giving him water.

"It is my turn to give back," he said.

Steve Trotto offered two guest rooms in his home about 45 minutes away from downtown. He said he was proud of the response from people in the New England area.

But it wasn't just online requests that brought offers of support; people who live along the race route were jumping in to help.

Boston bombings heighten safety concerns
Listen to police radio after the bombing

Ali Hatfield was one of the thankful runners who were on the receiving end of good deeds. The Kansas City, Missouri, resident had just finished the race and greeted her family at the meeting area. But instead of crashing at her hotel, she found herself locked out during the chaos.

Unable to go to her room, Hatfield said she was overwhelmed by a stranger's kind gesture. "A sweet woman opened her home to us and gave us food, shelter and beer!" she said.

Freelance photographer Andrea Catalano was leaving the Red Sox game as he noticed runners stopped about a mile from the finish line. Catalano said he saw spectators rush into their homes and return with blankets, jackets and water for the runners.

His goal was to use his photography to show the outpouring of support and the good deeds going on.

"As heart-wrenching as a moment can be; it's amazing to see how the good in people can show up! I am proud to be from Boston!" he wrote on CNN iReport.

And it's not only people in the area who want to help.

David Semick of northern California was one of those offering support early Tuesday morning.

"Clearly I'm way out of the Boston area," Semick said. "But maybe there is a relative that lives over here that needs something. I am here to help. I am 3,000 miles away, and I was so touched by this. So many of us want to help anyway we can."

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