#PortesOuvertesNice: Amid terror, people open their doors – and their hearts

Updated 12:07 PM EDT, Fri July 15, 2016
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French soldiers patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower on January 8, 2015 in Paris as the capital was placed under the highest alert status a day after heavily armed gunmen shouting Islamist slogans stormed French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and shot dead at least 12 people in the deadliest attack in France in four decades. A  huge manhunt for two brothers suspected of massacring 12 people in an Islamist attack at a satirical French weekly zeroed in on a northern town Thursday after the discovery of one of the getaway cars. As thousands of police tightened their net, the country marked a rare national day of mourning for Wednesday's bloodbath at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, the worst terrorist attack in France for half a century. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY        (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)
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French soldiers patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower on January 8, 2015 in Paris as the capital was placed under the highest alert status a day after heavily armed gunmen shouting Islamist slogans stormed French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and shot dead at least 12 people in the deadliest attack in France in four decades. A huge manhunt for two brothers suspected of massacring 12 people in an Islamist attack at a satirical French weekly zeroed in on a northern town Thursday after the discovery of one of the getaway cars. As thousands of police tightened their net, the country marked a rare national day of mourning for Wednesday's bloodbath at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, the worst terrorist attack in France for half a century. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)
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An attack in Nice where a man rammed a truck into a crowd of people left 84 dead and another 18 in a "critical condition", interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said Friday. An unidentified gunman barrelled the truck two kilometres (1.3 miles) through a crowd that had been enjoying a fireworks display for France's national day before being shot dead by police.
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Policemen walk on the site where a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016. An attack in Nice where a man rammed a truck into a crowd of people left 84 dead and another 18 in a "critical condition", interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said Friday. An unidentified gunman barrelled the truck two kilometres (1.3 miles) through a crowd that had been enjoying a fireworks display for France's national day before being shot dead by police. / AFP / Valery HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Fire department ambulances and vehicles are parked near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. A spokesman for France's Interior Ministry says there are likely to be "several dozen dead" after a truck drove into a crowd of revelers celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice. (AP Photo/Christian Alminana)
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Fire department ambulances and vehicles are parked near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. A spokesman for France's Interior Ministry says there are likely to be "several dozen dead" after a truck drove into a crowd of revelers celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice. (AP Photo/Christian Alminana)
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Police officers, firefighters and rescue workers are seen at the site of an attack on July 15, 2016, after a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. A truck ploughed into a crowd in the French resort of Nice on July 14, leaving at least 60 dead and scores injured in an "attack" after a Bastille Day fireworks display, prosecutors said on July 15. / AFP / Valery HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Story highlights

A truck plows through a crowd in Nice, killing more than 80 people

Truck driver shot into crowds

Plowed into people for around 1.2 miles (2 kilometers)

Shot to death by authorities

(CNN) —  

Amid the terror, carnage and panic, it didn’t take long for Nice’s residents to open their doors and hearts as the city reacted to the deaths of over 80 people after a truck rammed into a crowd celebrating a national holiday.

They did so by tweeting #PortesOuvertesNice which quickly started trending, with local newspaper Nice Matin one of the first to use the hashtag, which was retweeted over 3,000 times.

A number of countries’ Foreign Offices also shared the hashtag, as did the Nice Twitter account.

One Twitter user, who has lived in NIce for five years, told CNN – he didn’t want to be identified – that after tweeting the hashtag six French people in their twenties came to his home for shelter. In the end they only stayed for 10 minutes before heading for the train station to return home.

Art historian Thomas Schlesser, who works at the Hartung-Bergman Foundation in Antibes – 20 kilometers away from Nice – was another to tweet the hashtag.

“When I heard about the attacks and I saw the hashtag I thought it was possible to help,” the 38-year-old Schlesser told CNN in a phone interview. “We have four rooms free, and although I didn’t have any calls for me this was a message of solidarity. The foundation is a nice place with a lot of space.

“I wanted to put the tweet in English because I thought it was the tourists who were most likely to be in need. But I did not have a call in the night, perhaps because we’re 20 kilometers (roughly 12 miles) from the scene of the tragedy.”

Schlesser knew Pierre Innocenti and Hyacinthe Koma, who were killed in the November attacks in Paris, and as he reflected on what had happened on Bastille Day in Nice along the Promenade des Anglais, he insisted he wouldn’t be cowed in the way he lived his life.

“Nothing will change my behavior,” he added. “I often take the train and the plane and I will not change my daily life. I think about the threat sometimes, but I categorically refused to change my lifestyle. It’s certainly easier for someone like me who, at 38, has no children … Anyway, I’m not afraid.”