SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With the storm quickly approaching, many people are hunkering down in their houses and apartments as they prepare for the weather to turn nasty. But what about those who don’t have a home? What do they need and how can you help?

WSAV NOW’s Angel Colquitt interviewed Paula Smith about what you can do to help those who are homeless like her.

If you want to help those who are homeless, she said, it is important that you recognize that they are also people.

“Most of us are out here because we cannot afford housing,” Smith said. “Regardless of whether we’re addicts, mental health, alcoholics, we are not vermin. We are not rats and cockroaches to be exterminated. We are human beings who feel, who hurt, who fear, who cry and we deserve to be treated with respect.”

Smith has been living in Savannah in a homeless camp for the past 5 years. According to Smith, hurricanes have never been that much of an issue- the wind from regular storms has caused more problems by knocking down limbs and trees.

“My biggest concern is flooding,” she said. She explained that while her current tent is high enough off of the ground that it does not flood from the floor, the rain can still get inside from the roof. The more rain there is, the more of a problem there is.

She is working on a new tent, one that is higher off of the ground so that flooding will not be a problem, but she still needs help from others to actually get the tent put up because of her chronic pain. She also needs help with getting a new bed that will work with the tent, as it is smaller than her current bed.

In terms of general needs, Smith said that there were many things that would help the homeless of Savannah, particularly those who live in camps.

These items include but are not limited to:

  • 25-gallon plastic storage containers with lids
    • These have so many uses according to Smith, and they’re relatively cheap.
  • Pet food for both dogs and cats
  • Propane tanks
  • Non-perishable food items
    • Things with nutritional value that do not need to be refrigerated. Think canned chili, not ramen noodles.
  • Large trash bags
  • Gallon jugs of water
  • Gently used or new clothing
  • Gently used or new blankets

There are also ways that you can help that don’t involve giving items or money, if you can not afford it. Instead, you can offer up your time by helping those living in camps with general tasks that they may need assistance with. Many people who are homeless are living with disabilities that make it more difficult for them to complete tasks. These tasks may involve things like putting up tents or cleaning up sites.

If you would like to help out with homeless communities like the one that Smith is apart of, you can contact her through Facebook by clicking or tapping on the link here and sending her an introductory message.