Organizations Ensure Homeless Have Shelter In Cold Snap

Dangerous Wind Chills, Snow In Wisconsin's Weekend Forecast
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Dangerous wind chills and snow are in the forecast for Wisconsin this weekend. The weather has those who some people who help the homeless ensuring no one is left out in the cold.

The turn from unseasonably warm temperatures in November to bitter cold in December is an unpleasant surprise, said Maj. Steven Merritt, the Salvation Army's Divisional Commander for Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

"Here we are only at mid-December and with the temperatures that we're already experiencing we know there's another storm on its way, it'll come at the end of this week," Merritt said. "So, yeah, I would think that as things are looking right now the need will be greater this season."

People in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin were under a wind chill advisory Wednesday when highs ranged from 20 to 30 degrees below average in northern United States, according to the Associated Press.

The charity runs 26 shelters in Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, most of which are daytime warming centers. There are overnight accommodations in Madison, Milwaukee and La Crosse. The cold snap also comes just as Salvation Army volunteers are focused on distributing Christmas toys.

The Salvation Army isn’t the only charity surprised by unseasonably cold temperatures and wind chills.

In Appleton, the Fox Valley Warming Shelter can house 60 adults overnight, but must close during the day.

Scott Peeples, the shelter's executive director said the shelter sees an influx during extremely cold weather, but they generally don't need to turn anyone away.

"There is a higher amount of compassion with friends and relatives during the coldest times of the year when they're more likely to take somebody in," he said.

Those familial relationships mean the shelter’s population remains steady year-round. "So it doesn't mean when the temperature dips suddenly we have more people. It's not like people are choosing to sleep outside even when it's beautiful out."

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