Update: Red Cross of Northeast Ohio will have a warming shelter open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday at its Lorain County Chapter, 2929 West River Road North, Elyria. The shelters are an opportunity for residents to escape the cold; food service will not be available.
Preparations have begun for the big freeze.
With the National Weather Service predicting lows of minus 5 degrees tonight, minus 6 Tuesday night and just 6 degrees Wednesday night, an emergency shelter opened Sunday night at St. Mary Parish, 320 Middle Ave., Elyria. Seven people were staying at the shelter around 8 p.m. Sunday, said Bruce Shade, Elyria assistant safety service director.
Six were homeless. The seventh had an apartment with faulty heating.
Shade said the shelter, which received blanket and food donations and will serve hot meals, will remain open at least through Thursday when a low of 13 is predicted. The shelter, which can accommodate up to 100, is allowing people to bring pets, but they must be kept in carriers or cages. Two cages were available Sunday night.
Shade said 10 people used the shelter during the deep freeze Jan. 6 to 9 when temperatures were single digits and subzero. He expects more will use the shelter this time because city officials notified the public earlier.
Elyria does not have a permanent homeless shelter. Shade said a permanent shelter would be “beneficial,” but a location and substantial money would have to be found.
“It’s certainly a big undertaking, but every community that is able to do that can better serve its community,” Shade said.
Three beds in the men’s section and three in the women’s section of the St. Joseph Overnight Homeless Shelter, 317 W. 15th, Lorain, were available Sunday night, said Deacon Lou Maldonado, program director. The shelter houses up to 50 men and 16 women.
It was unclear if any beds were available at The Haven Center, a 68-bed shelter for individuals and families run by the Neighborhood Alliance at 1536 E. 30th St., Lorain. Sandy Humphrey, director of homeless services, and Connie Osborn, alliance CEO and president, didn’t return calls.
Preparations also included Columbia Gas Co. of Ohio customers being asked to chill out on natural gas usage. Customers were asked in a Sunday news release to set thermostats “as low as appropriate to maintain health and comfort,”as well as limit use of gas appliances and set water heaters to 120 degrees.
About 2,700 customers in Eaton Township, Elyria and North Ridgeville lost gas during an outage Jan. 6 to 8. Columbia Gas serves 1.4 million people in 61 Ohio counties, including about 275,000 customers in Northeast Ohio, said Ray Frank, a Columbia Gas spokesman.
Frank said there is plenty of natural gas, but increased use during frigid weather strains the company’s infrastructure.
“It just the physical capability of getting the gas through all these pipelines,” he said.