When veteran evacuee opted to stay in Columbus, there was a plan to make it happen

Local News

Thursday as Hurricane Dorian evacuees left the Red Cross shelter at the Columbus Civic Center, one man opted to stay behind.

And thanks to lessons learned two years ago when Hurricane Irma hit the Georgia coast, there was a plan in place to accommodate him and ease the transition.

And that plan was put in place by Home for Good, a local homeless advocacy group.

Grover Sutton, 72, had been living week to week in a coastal hotel. He decided he wanted something different.

He found an advocate in Columbus in Pat Frey, who is executive director for Home for Good. Frey had been in the shelter since it opened Monday night and was able to help Sutton work out a plan to remain in Columbus.

It was a different situation from two years ago when there was not a plan and some evacuees wanted to stay as they were loading the school busses for the five-hour journey home to Brunswick.

“We were scrambling at the last minute to try and find temporary accommodations,” Frey said of the Irma experience. “By being a part of the staff here and being the face that people saw in the organization, interacting with the clients, then we were able to have a conversation earlier in the process.”

And Sutton benefitted from that. He was in the Air Force and has VA benefits. Home for Good has worked for seven years and has a lot of experience in housing veterans.

“At my age, my nerves and medical condition, I can’t handle the evacuations anymore,” he said. “I talked to the wonderful people here at the Red Cross, and with the VA — excuse me for getting emotional — I don’t want to go through this again. … I just want to be someplace where it’s safe and I don’t have to uproot and leave out again.”

Sutton planned to stay at the Valley Rescue Mission Thursday night while a permanent solution is found.

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