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Irma families find open arms, temporary shelter in Atlanta
Laura Murvartian and the two Florida families she is hosting at her home in Atlanta. (Shannan Reaze)

Atlanta-area residents with ties to Florida are doing their part to help find housing for those fleeing Hurricane Irma.

Vanessa Faraj, 34, saw friends offering places to stay and other help on Facebook early on, but she worried that those offers would be missed if someone didn’t intervene. So she created a Google Docs form that people could fill out of they had a room to offer.

“I was just a little bit worried that the offers that were being made over Facebook would just get lost in the shuffle and wouldn’t actually reach the people who needed housing,” she said.

Shannan Reaze created a complementary form for people in need of temporary housing. Reaze, a 36-year-old community organizer in Atlanta, previously worked in Miami for seven years and maintains a robust network of contacts.  So she sent her form to her 60 contacts in Miami, who then passed it along to others.

Through their efforts — and the work of other volunteers, more than 100 people have found temporary places to stay in Atlanta.

“I know that in times like these, one can really be left to feel helpless,” Faraj said. “People like opportunities to be a part of the collective effort — the collective good.”

Added Reaze: “I feel like I’m just glad we can” help.

But she said that the need for places to stay is going to grow significantly in the coming days.

“We had a lot of people stay back. A lot of our community stayed,” she said of folks in Miami.

Reaze’s organizing work centered on housing and food service in Miami, and she worked with communities of color and members of the LGBT community.

“These storms don’t care about the boundaries of our state. They don’t care what communities you live in. And that’s the reason that we’re going to come together,” Reaze said. “It’s like the . . .  silver lining that there’s a lot of good organizing groups in Georgia and in Florida. I’m excited to see the power of these two networks come together.”

Hurricane Irma: Storm moves north after pounding Florida
Heavy winds and rain are seen in Miami on Sunday. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Irma, the record-setting hurricane that devastated islands across the Caribbean, has been churning north through Florida — and has turned its sights on Georgia.

Visit the Capital Weather Gang’s live updates page for more on the storm.

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