Kanawha County warming shelters brace for winter weather | Bot To News

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The weekend weather event will see temperatures drop dramatically in just a few hours.

Even if the air normally feels tolerable on Thursday night, that will change in a few hours.

For those who are used to sleeping outdoors, getting into a warm space can be a matter of life and death.

The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Charleston and the Dunbar Recreation Center will serve as warm-up centers.

Margaret O’Neil, president of the United Way of Central West Virginia, said it’s a team effort to get homeless people to safety.

“We just encourage people to find a friend, to find a place to be safe,” he said. “This is not typical, just a blast of cold weather. These are truly freezing temperatures that could be life-threatening.”

Dunbar Police Department Chief Brian Oxley said community members should know that their warming center is open to everyone.

“Any time inclement weather hits, we know it will have a negative impact on members of the community,” he said. “Overall, we want to try to stay ahead of the game and set up areas that help members of the community.”

“There is always a hot meal. We will have some snacks during the night, we try to make sure everyone has a coat. There’s a blanket on each card so people can take their blankets and leave in the morning and we replace them before the next night,” O’Neil said. “We have medical teams there in case people are already frozen or have some other immediate medical need that needs to be addressed, it’s really a whole community effort.”

Oxley advises anyone unsure of the correct steps to take to get out of a weather-related emergency to take advantage of resources… to prevent a potential tragedy.

“A lot of what we don’t want to happen is someone getting stuck outside or in a house with no power or no heat or anything,” he said. “In this situation, the temperatures are going to drop so low, the best thing to do is go down and stay safe in the area that we’re providing because it can be dangerous for anyone.”

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