Cold Weather Shelter Opens a Month Earlier Than UsualBy Rhonda Miller | Published 29 Nov 2011 01:44am |
Mississippians across the state are braving the first bone-chilling blast of the season that’s bringing icy rain, snow and freezing temperatures. There are some people facing the cold snap without a warm home. MPB’s Rhonda Miller found some of them at a Gulf Coast shelter Monday afternoon.
By four o’clock, half a dozen people are waiting outside the D’Iberville Civic Center to get in out of the cold. One of them is Rusty Robinson, who’s been a carpenter all his life and worked in Bay Saint Louis for the past six years. A couple of months ago, the work ran out and he became homeless.
"Right here, this is the first shelter that’s been open and the only place you can sleep," Robinson says. "They’ve got cots and you know, and they bought us pizza last night, which was great. It was nice and warm in there."
Robinson was one of 21 people who stayed at the shelter on Sunday, the first night it opened. Being warm was good, so he came back. He wasn’t the only one returning, and many other people heard it was open.
"Excuse me sir, I need you fill this form out..."
The shelter opened at 4:30 Monday, and by 5 o’clock, 29 people had signed in, and more were lining up.
At the Harrison County Emergency Operations Center in Gulfport, Director Rupert Lacy says cold weather shelters usually don’t open until the end of December or early January.
"It seems like we’re starting to see an earlier bout with cold weather. One of our concerns is the dampness, on top of the cold front that was coming in," says Lacy.
Even though the shelters usually open when the temperature stays near freezing, Lacy says the thermometer doesn't tell the whole story.
"It may be 35 degrees, but with the wind chill, it’s below and we know people can’t survive in that cold element if they don’t have proper cover," Lacy says.
The cold weather shelters are opening up just as the official end of hurricane season arrives on Wednesday.
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