winter weather

Staying Warm in This Extreme Cold Snap

Charities seek donations to house homeless people in hotels

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People in North Texas faced many challenges Wednesday with a cold snap that was forecast to get even colder.

Staying warm is tough when you have no home. Churches and shelters that might find space to help homeless people stay warm are limited by the need for social distancing to protect against COVID-19.

So, a group of churches and charities worked with the City of Dallas Wednesday to arrange hotel rooms for homeless people.

The service provider Our Calling led a fundraising drive to pay for more space.

You can donate to Our Calling by clicking here.

Plenty of rooms are vacant because travel has plummeted in the pandemic.

“The problem is not do you have enough hotels. The problem is do you have enough money to pay for those hotel rooms,” said Our Calling Director Wayne Walker.

Around 200 rooms were arranged but many more were needed.

Walker said the average of 30 new homeless clients a week at Our Calling before the pandemic has risen to around 100 each week in the past year.

Our Calling is normally a daytime service provider of meals and showers for homeless people, but it will stay open around the clock the next few days in this weather.

“When there's not enough space, we have to do the right thing, the right moral obligation and keep our doors open,” Walker said.

To keep people with homes warm, they were making more fire logs from recycled trees as fast as possible at Discount Firewood on Walnut Hill Lane in Dallas.

Owner Baron Ablon said around 200 pallets full of wood has sold out already this season.

He said the cold weather compounds demand that was already strong with more people staying home because of the pandemic.

“A lot of people came through because of COVID-19 for months now. Our business is really doubled this year from last year,” Ablon said. “We’ve got a waiting list. We’ve got people waiting to get it.”

For those lucky enough to have firewood and a home fireplace, the Red Cross warned about dangers.

“We want to make sure that you're not leaving the fire unattended,” said Red Cross representative Lisa Morgan.

Other precautions include the use of space heaters only on hard surfaces and not on flammable carpet. 

The kitchen oven used to heat a cold house can lead to fire or carbon monoxide danger.

“That's something that we highly discourage,” Morgan said.

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