SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As Savannah and the surrounding coastal areas prepare for the potential impacts of Hurricane Ian, city leaders are reminding people who are homeless to seek shelter.
“The most important thing is the safety of their life,” said Jennifer Darsey, Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless.
Hurricane Matthew had devastating impacts on homeless people in Savannah, forcing individuals to wade through more than a foot of water. Now, officials are urging people to take shelter to avoid getting caught in potentially dangerous conditions.
“There could be flooding,” Darsey said. “We want them to get to safety and leave their stuff behind.”
The Chatham Savannah Authority For The Homeless partnered with local shelters to make sure they’re ready to house people ahead of the storm.
“Historically what our local shelters have done is have extra cots available and based on the need they just keep bringing in extra cots, they put cots in hallways, they put cots in gymnasium areas, they put cots in unconventional areas, just to help individuals get out of the weather,” Darsey said.
Teams are working around the clock to get information to people living at encampments about where to shelter and also provide transportation to take them there.
“They have a flyer that says exactly what addresses are available, what shelters are available,” Darsey said. “And our team is offering transportation, so we have a 15-passenger Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless Van, we’re offering them an opportunity to get into the van and go to those different shelters.”
Local shelters aren’t the only ones preparing to help those in need. Christ Church Anglican offers meals and resources to people in Savannah year round but now they’re switching gears.
“We think we will have a large crowd tomorrow, we’re going to put scouts on the street as we always do, this afternoon, telling people there’s a place for you, come on, line up, and we’re just going to follow our normal protocol,” said Kristy Crill.
Organizers said no matter where people decide to go during this storm, the most important thing is that they are safe.
“We do not want to see anyone hurt, we do not want to see anyone, God forbid, killed, as a result of this storm,” Crill said.
There are currently three shelters partnering with the Authority For The Homeless to provide bed spaces to those in need. The Salvation Army is accepting women and children while Union Mission and Old Savannah Mission are taking in men.
The Red Cross has also opened a shelter in Brunswick, located at 2900 Albany Street or the Old Risley Annex. Red Cross will be staffing this shelter during the storm as needed.