Shelters & Support Groups Gear Up To Help Those In Need During Dangerously Low Temps

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With wind chill readings forecasted to dip below zero Tuesday morning, this type of weather can be very dangerous.  Area shelters have been working hard to make sure everyone has a warm place to stay.

"Without this, I'd be dead probably,” said Paul Walters, who has been calling Faith Mission home for the past three weeks.  "They listen to you. They got counselors that'll help you,” he said.

Walters is far from alone at the shelter.  Faith Mission officials say they added 70 beds last week to prepare for the drop in temperatures.  They now have about 180 beds at the men's shelter on North 6th St.

"That's dangerous for people to be outside or to try to sleep on the street,” said Vic Ward, Faith Mission’s Director of Operations. "We obviously don't want them to do that so we expand our capacity here so people have a warm place to stay."

It is the same philosophy at the YMCA shelter in west Columbus.  "We will not allow anyone to be turned away,” said Sue Darby, Executive Director of the YMCA Downtown District.  Shelter officials tell 10TV they housed 254 women Sunday night. They work with the Community Shelter Board to make sure everyone has a place to stay.  "Anyone who is out there that is seeking a bed tonight or any cold night will get it,” Darby said.

The homeless aren't the only ones in need of help in cold weather like this. Groups that deal with the older population say to check up on your elderly neighbors and even offer to shovel their sidewalks.  "It is very dangerous for these folks, seniors and medically challenged, even to go out on their porch,” said Chuck Gehring, president and CEO of LifeCare Alliance.

Gehring says his organization serves about 15,000 clients through services such as Meals-on-Wheels.  "Half of the Meals on Wheels service is the meal,” Gehring said. “The other half of the service is checking on them daily."  Gehring says doing a wellness check can make all the difference when the temperatures plummet.  "It's just very, very critical,” he said.

Project Prepare: Winter Safety Tips & Information