Homeless say shelters crucial in subzero temperatures

Two people staying at the Salvation Army's Center of Hope shelter in Jefferson City share a laugh Monday.

Mid-Missourians without places to call their own told KRCG 13 Monday emergency shelters were a major help for them.

Russell Williams said he was already staying at the Salvation Army's Center of Hope when talk of extreme cold this week began, but he said he was glad he had a place to stay.

"It's very important to have shelters such as this because some people don't have anywhere else to go," he said. "It seems like out here in Jeff City, there aren't too many places where people can actually go get warm."

Robert Kirby said he goes to shelters whenever cold weather advisories go out. He said shelters' services, such as laundry and showers, come in very handy.

Monday's subzero temperatures meant shelters went to great lengths to keep as many people warm as possible. Alonzo Bailey, a shelter monitor at Center of Hope, said staff kept the shelter open as a warming shelter all day, a departure from normal procedure. The Salvation Army's Columbia Shelter, Harbor House, has had cots available to boost its sleeping capacity since temperatures started dropping below 40 degrees back in November.

Shelters weren't the only groups taking extra steps because of the cold. Jefferson City police said they were on the lookout for anyone without a place to stay. Capt. Doug Shoemaker told KRCG 13 officers were being told to check on people who appeared to be spending the night in the cold and offer to bring them to a shelter.

Maj. Richard Trimmell, the Salvation Army's regional coordinator, said people in need sometimes hesitate to seek out emergency shelters. He said anyone who knows someone in this situation should encourage them to find help.