Triangle residents struggle with deep chill

Posted January 2, 2010 1:40 p.m. EST
Updated January 2, 2010 11:40 p.m. EST

—  As a deep chill settles into North Carolina, a Durham couple is glad to have their heat back on, and homeless shelters are preparing for an influx of those needing warmth.

On Saturday, temperatures hung around freezing, and blustery winds making it feel even colder. Overnight, temperatures are predicted to drop into the upper teens, with a wind chill in the single digits. The cold is expected to last all of next week.

Homeless shelters in the Triangle are preparing to help more people during the cold snap.

Walter Cole, director of the men's division of the Durham Rescue Mission, said he remembers being homeless in the cold himself.

"Years ago, I used to crawl under the leaves in the forest for warmth," he said.

Volunteers will go to popular gathering places for the homeless Sunday afternoon and encourage them to come to the rescue mission. They will share hot chocolate, pastries and coffee, and those who come to the shelter Sunday evening will get gloves, shirts and headwear.

"My prayer is that every man or woman will come to the realization that I should have come to a long time ago: The mission cares about the homeless," Cole said. "We want them to know that we feel their pain and struggles. We want to help this community."

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.

Meanwhile, new Durham homeowners Walter and Katherine Harris got a chilly surprise when returning from a visit to their old home in Tennessee.

The couple said it turned out they were $1.50 short on a $253.50 deposit, so PSNC Energy hadn't turned on their natural gas.

"I said, 'You did not come out and turn my heat on for $1.50? I got a dollar and 50 cents in my pocket,'" Walter Harris said.

They couple said they were told a worker couldn't get out to the home to activate the heat until Monday or Tuesday. They planned to use a space heater this weekend.

"I said, 'Look, me and my wife are both disabled. We need heat,'" Walter Harris said.

A PSNC representative declined to comment to WRAL News, but gave the Harrises a toll-free number and said to ask for a manager. To their surprise, the couple said, a worker came out Saturday, and their heat was back on within two hours.

"It's 60 degrees right now," Katherine Harris said happily.

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