Cold poses danger for homeless in Volusia, Flagler

A couple of organizations are trying to help the area's homeless people stay warm during this week's cold snap

Cold temperatures like those sweeping through the area this week pose a special danger for homeless people, who may find it difficult to get someplace warm.

Two local organizations — one in Volusia County, another in Flagler — are trying to mitigate that danger by providing shelter. But the need is greater than the available space, at least in Volusia.

Halifax Urban Ministries Family Shelter, in cooperation with Votran, transports people to churches with which it has an arrangement. The churches provide the actual cold shelter.

But space is limited, according to HUM shelter executive director Sue Ellen Jackson. Today and Friday, there will be 45 available spaces. Thursday, there will be 65.

Part of that shortage is due to Hurricane Irma, which damaged one church, removing it from the roster of HUM partners.

Jackson encouraged churches that would like to offer cold shelter to email her at sueellen@halifaxurbanministries.org.

On Tuesday, HUM staff members were handing out blankets, jackets, socks, caps and gloves at 340 North St. and the prevention center at 215 Bay St. — both in Daytona Beach. They plan to continue that distribution today.

But, like shelter space, winter wear is in short supply. Jackson invited anyone who would like to donate a blanket or other cold weather apparel to drop it off at the North Street facility.

In Flagler County, The Sheltering Tree has been the place to go over the past nine years that it has been located at the First United Methodist Church in Bunnell. Like the HUM facility, The Sheltering Tree gives homeless people a place to stay once the temperature drops to 40 degrees or below.

The shelter was open five days in December as well as the first two days of the new year. It will continue to be open for the rest of the week.

Nineteen people stayed there Monday. Susan Bickings, who sits on the organization’s board of directors, predicted that number will rise in coming days.

Volunteers are split up into teams. The hospitality team arrives at about 4:30 p.m. to set things up and then opens the shelter an hour later. The supper team cooks a meal — or brings food in — and serves the shelter’s hungry guests at 6 p.m.

Other volunteers arrive at 10 p.m. and stay until 6 a.m. with those sheltering there.

“We have a group of dedicated overnighters,” Bickings said. “We couldn’t open the shelter without them.”

The breakfast team serves food at 6 a.m. and then cleans up. The shelter closes at 8 a.m.

Signs are posted at the county’s libraries to let people know when the shelter will be open. People can just show up or call ahead. The Sheltering Tree has two pick-up spots in Palm Coast and, if needed, shelter volunteers can pick people up in Flagler Beach.

Bickings relies on the National Weather Service website to determine when the shelter needs to be open. Because arrangements are made in advance, that plan is not abandoned even if the temperature rises above 40. By the same token, a sudden unexpected plunge in temperatures will not trigger an emergency opening.

Temperatures are expected to drop into the lower 30s in Volusia County over the next three nights. In Flagler County, the low is predicted to fall into the 20s Wednesday and Thursday nights.

In addition to the cold, coastal areas have been dealing with a nor’easter. Flagler Beach City Manager Larry Newsom ordered the pier closed Tuesday morning after finding that winds had risen above 30 mph. He declined to predict when it would reopen.

Wave-driven sway did not trigger sensors placed on the pier after Irma.

Newsom said he would have someone ride the beach on Wednesday to check on scourings and any possible effects on the dune walkovers.

Source : http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20180102/cold-poses-danger-for-homeless-in-volusia-flagler

Related Posts