SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Hurricane season is officially here, and local shelters are preparing to provide a safe space for people experiencing homelessness.

The Old Savannah City Mission currently has 46 bed spaces available, and this hurricane season, they’re prepared to shelter up to 200 people in the event of an emergency.

Program director Jermaine Ray says with the recent rains, they’ve already cleared more space to welcome people in.

“We’ve been having, you know, rain in the forecast for the last past three weeks, so I’ve been having to open up the floor to the individuals that were eligible for a bed that can always come in during extreme temperatures,” says Ray.

Ray says the safety of the men they serve at their shelter is a priority, and they want them to know, their doors are always open.

“Anytime if it’s an emergency, they know that they can stop whatever they’re doing and come to Old Savannah City Mission, our building is open 24/7, we always have somebody on the desk to let individuals in during extreme temperatures,” Ray said.

The Old City Mission is one of several area shelters that are gearing up to house those in need this hurricane season.

“We’ve been prepping as far as getting our kitchen stocked up with non-perishable items, getting out cots, our mattresses and everything ready in case disaster happens to strike us,” says Ray.

Georgia created the ‘State Shelter Program’, which would have evacuees meet at a designated location and then be bussed to an inland location. The Old City Mission will provide transportation to those appropriate assembly points.

The state shelter program replaces city to city agreements like Savannah had with Augusta. In 2019, more than 1300 city evacuees went to Augusta – in 2017 that number topped 3000. But because of the incredible cost to cities like Augusta, the state shelter program was created.

As local organizations prepare to provide shelter to people, items like non-perishables, blankets, socks, sanitary products, and cleaning supplies are in high demand, and they are looking for donations.