SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — City officials estimate that nearly 50 people were living underneath the Truman Bridge on President Street, and had been for decades now.
Thursday at 1 p.m. marked their deadline to gather their things and leave the premises or risk having their belongings bulldozed and destroyed.
“We have beds located at various shelters locally that are ready to accept individuals,” explained Nick Zoller, Chief Communications Officer for the city. “We have access to traditional and mental health care for individuals, we also have access to assistance for their pets, we have access for assistance to relocate to another area where someone’s friends or family may be located, we’re able to provide that access.”
Those that once called this area home, were given just over a week to move their things. This comes after an Oct. 2 fire broke out underneath the bridge, causing traffic delays and minor damage.
Licius Young is one of the dozens that are being forced to relocate.
“I ain’t got none of my stuff, none of my stuff,” Young said.
When asked where the city offered to take them: “To the homeless shelter, they did that down there when they bulldozed down here and started building up there,” Young said. “They took them folks to the homeless shelter for one day, and they kicked ’em out. They kicked ’em out.”
According to the city, The Chatham County Homeless Authority decided it was unsafe for people to live underneath the bridge.
Young wants to know, why they weren’t given more time to collect their things before the city began clearing out the property.
“All they want us to do is move, all that trash and stuff, look at how fast they cleaned it up in one day,” Young said. “When we was down there calling for a dumpster, we had money we were going to pay out our own pocket. Now they talking about, ‘oh it’s a hazard, the fire.’ C’mon man, we done had fire’s way bigger than that that we called 9-1-1 for and they never came.”
Now, the city plans to fence off the outskirts of the property in order to prevent anyone from setting up refuge back in the area.
“It’s understandable that there are certain individuals who are really not wanting to leave but for the most part, as of this morning, more than half of the individuals have self-relocated or taken advantage of services that were available and being offered,” Zoller said.
The city told WSAV they will continue using their resources to work with the community partners to make sure that those that are being forced to leave their homes are being treated with dignity and respect.