Protecting the Homeless from Bitter Cold Weather

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- We saw temperatures drop to as low as two degrees this morning, and with a high staying in the single digits today, the cold brings many concerns for homes, cars, and people, specifically the homelessave been the biggest concern for some local shelters since last night.

When it's below 32 degrees, the Salvation Army Shelter will refuse almost no-one at their shelter in Bowling Green. They say that's because under these circumstances, staying in the cold too long could become deadly.

"It's a matter of life and death. You think about it, you know, us being outside for 5 minutes and we're cold, and we're ready to come in, but imagine having to stay out there with nothing just in the elements with it that cold. I mean we got below zero was it? That's extremely too cold for a person to be outside," said Salvation Army Social Services Director Heather Gordon.

With 45 people staying last night, the men's and family sections of the shelter were full, but Gordon says they won't turn anyone away under these conditions, saying they'll fill the building with cots if need be.

"It's cold for me to go from my house, to my car port, to my car. I mean, I can't imagine having to stay out there last night. I was laying in the bed last night thinking about how extremely blessed I was to have my family and myself home in a warm bed with heat and everything we need. These folks don't have that luxury."

A bed, blankets, clothes and toiletries are all provided here, but so is food. The shelter provides 3 meals to its clients in addition to those who visit its soup kitchen.

That kitchen was supposed to be closed today, but its director couldn't stand the thought of turning anyone away either.

"The weather is so cold today, and I hate to think that anyone coming down here to eat would have to be turned away when they've made the trip down here as cold as it is. So I came on in and we prepared sack lunches they could pick up and take with them. This way they're not going hungry and they haven't wasted a day in this cold weather. It is just awful."

The shelter will continue allowing anyone to come in and stay as long as it's below 32 degrees. Gordon says people from the community donated at least a hundred blankets this past week to help their cause.

Gordon says it does not matter if a person has used their allotment of stays, anyone can come when it's below freezing. The only exception are those who are not sober when they arrive, and registered sex offenders.

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