Homeless shelters try to keep people out of the cold

Posted January 3, 2010 10:25 p.m. EST
Updated January 3, 2010 11:24 p.m. EST

— Homeless shelters in the Triangle are preparing to help more people as temperatures drop to the high teens and wind chills dip into the single digits.

Durham Rescue Mission volunteers took to the streets Sunday afternoon, urging the homeless to go inside. Those who came to the shelter were given gloves, shirts and headwear.

"We try to go out and warn them. This is very dangerous, you need to get in,” Rob Tart, chief operating officer of the Durham Rescue Mission, said. “It is so crucial because it is literally life and death."

Rodney Burgess, who had been sleeping in abandoned homes, spent Sunday at the Durham Rescue Mission.

“I am just trying to stay warm,” Burgess said. "Thank God for this place right here."

Burgess said he knows how important it is to get inside.

"I have seen people getting frostbite,” he said.

Betty Brock is also homeless and has been sleeping in her van for five years.

"Thank God, I have a van to be in,” she said.

Brock said she can't always run the van's heater because of the high cost of gas. She bundles in blankets and tries to brave the cold the best she can.

A woman recently gave Brock an electric blanket that she can plug into her van's cigarette lighter. Brock said it will be a huge help on nights "when you wake up with a quarter inch of ice on the inside of your windows."

Shelters in Wake County initiate the "White Flag" program when overnight temperatures are below freezing. The shelters then take all comers, no matter how overcrowded it gets.

Shelters in Wake and Durham counties

  • Durham Rescue Mission Men's Division, 1201 E. Main St., Durham (men)
  • Durham Rescue Mission Women and Children's Division, 507 E. Knox St. (women and children)
  • South Wilmington Street Center, 1420 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh (men)
  • Helen Wright Center for Women, 401 W. Cabarrus St., Raleigh (women without children)
  • The Healing Place of Wake County, 1251 Goode Drive, Raleigh (women without children)
  • Salvation Army, 215 S. Person St., Raleigh (women with or without children)
  • Raleigh Rescue Mission, 314 E. Hargett St., Raleigh (women with or without children)

View Triangle homeless shelters in a larger map