Homeless shelters working overtime in dangerous cold

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- No one should be outside for any length of time right now and that means homeless people need places to go.

Shelters are working nonstop but it’s especially difficult when it’s been so cold for so long and we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

“This winter has been insane,” said Pastor James West, Jr., Executive Director of Repairers of the Breach.

Repairers of the Breach’s emergency warming center opens when temperatures drop to 20 degrees so it’s had to stay open for two straight weeks.

“We’ve even had to open up on Sundays which traditionally is the one day we take off,” Pastor West said.

Normally their main room would hold 40 people, but with social distancing, it’s down to 14. So the shelter now has three levels open to make sure they have room for everyone in need.

“You have people who try to layer themselves with garbage bags to keep warm and that could work in certain circumstances but the weather we’ve facing now that’s not an option,” Pastor West said.

Paramedics say frostbite can set in quickly.

“In conditions like this it can be minutes,” said Noelle Gross with Bell Ambulance. “We lose body heat very quickly.”

If you have to be outside, make sure you don’t have any exposed skin.

“Make sure you have your ears, nose and fingers covered,” Gross said. “Those will be affected first.”

Anyone in need of a warm place to stay can call 211. Pastor West says all the shelters are working together to make sure everyone has a warm place to go.

“When one person is at capacity, we say hey I’ll find a corner, send them my way,” Pastor West said. “So it’s good Milwaukee is banding together to make it happen.”

Repairers of the breach is always in need of donations to help with operations. If you want to donate click here

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