(NEW YORK) — While businesses have been warned against illegal price gouging as a result of Hurricane Sandy, the disaster has also led to stories of generosity.
Millions are without power in the Northeast as city and state officials scramble to equip shelters with power and food.
Citizens and the private sector are pitching in, offering discounted hotel rates for first responders in some places while banks are waiving fees for victims. Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo and TD Bank are among the firms waiving things like overdraft fees for a limited time.
Here are six things people in affected areas of Hurricane Sandy can get for free for a limited time:
1. Free Wi-Fi service
Comcast announced it will allow anyone to access Xfinity Wi-Fi hot spots in several states affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The service, which is normally available to paid subscribers, is available in Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia and Massachusetts.
Non-Xfinity customers should search for the “xfinitywifi” network name and click on the “Not a Comcast subscriber?” link at the bottom of the Sign In page. Then select the “Complimentary Trial Session” option from the drop-down list.
Comcast said users will be able to renew their complimentary sessions every two hours through Nov. 7.
Hotspots are located indoors and outdoors in public places, such as shopping centers, parks and train platforms, according to the company. Comcast said complimentary Wi-Fi service may not be available in partner Wi-Fi hotspot locations.
You can visit www.xfinity.com/wifi for locations.
2. Free showers, workouts
Beginning on Wednesday, Town Sports International network of gyms have opened its doors for full use of its facilities, “whether it’s the need for a hot shower, to charge a cell phone battery, or simply to recharge their batteries with a stress-relieving workout” until Nov. 14.
The Town Sports International network has 160 locations including New York Sports Clubs, Boston Sports Clubs, Washington Sports Clubs and Philadelphia Sports Clubs.
To find a club near you, residents 18 or older must show a photo ID. They can visit www.mysportsclubs.com to see if there is a nearby open facility.
The company said guests are encouraged to bring their own towels due to restricted towel delivery.
3. 11-Year-Old’s Pop-Up Internet Cafe
Lucy Walkowiak, 11, of Hoboken, N.J., opened up a pop-up Internet cafe so people can charge their mobile devices and contact loved ones. While they are there, people can also give donations to the Red Cross.
Walkowiak set up shop in front of her home in Hoboken, open from 7:30 A.M. until 10 P.M. on Wednesday and continuing Thursday.
“I was just happy to help all the people without power in my community because so many people don’t have power,” she told ABC’s Good Morning America. “And we were one of the lucky ones who had power all through the hurricane. So we just decided to donate some of our power to people who have not had power for days and need to charge up their phones and other electronics.”
4. More places to charge your phone
Brightbox, Inc., a New York City startup that usually charges a flat fee to charge your mobile device in public places, has set up free charging stations in Manhattan.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that AT&T will also bring pods that provide cell coverage and charging stations near the city’s food distribution centers.
5. Free subway and bus rides
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced free subway, bus and commuter rail services on Thursday and Friday to encourage the use of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s mass transit. New York City is still reeling from limited subway service due to flooding.
6. Free car rides
Mayor Bloomberg has limited traffic into the city as non-operating traffic lights have led to major jams, allowing only cars with three passengers or more onto four East River bridges into Manhattan through Friday. There are reports of some desperate solo drivers who are driving into Manhattan offering free rides to pedestrians and even bicyclists.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Carrie Snider, EastIdahoNews.com
Heather Kelly, CNN
Paul Menser, Bizmojo Idaho