Jackson, Miss – Once again, much of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi are bracing for frozen precipitation and The Salvation Army is preparing to respond. As sub-freezing temperatures settle in across the region, The Salvation Army is expanding shelter capacity at shelters across the region. Additionally, feeding units are being dispatched to support emergency operations in Birmingham and feed additional homeless in Jackson.
Additionally, requests for utility assistance in January 2011 are up an average of 30% over January 2010. Much of this increase can be directly related to the prolonged cold weather across the region.
The Anniston, AL shelter has expanded temporary capacity with cots and has extended the hours of intake to provide a dry/warm place to escape the cold. Warm food, beverages, blankets, and blankets are also available to residents in need of warmth.
The Birmingham Area Command will be supporting the Jefferson County EMA with dinner and breakfast on Wednesday and Thursday. The emergency shelter has averaged 40 additional people per night.. The shelter anticipates increasing numbers throughout the cold snap.
The Gadsden, Ala. Corps had a 20% increase in shelter occupants and a 25% increase in feeding program due to the cold weather.
The Mobile Area Command has likewise expanded shelter capacity through the placement of cots. Average lodgings in Mobile are up from an average of 27 per night in 2010 to over 85 per night over the past few weeks. Additional feeding has also been provided to the assistance provided to shelter residents.
The Lake Charles (LA) Corps has been operating under their cold weather status during the entire cold snap. Shelter operations were at capacity (36) plus 8 extra cold weather cots filled.
The New Orleans Area Command’s shelter remains at capacity. Contingency plans are in place to add cots in various locations in the Center of Hope to house any overflow.
In Shreveport, additional space has been added to ensure that no one is left out in the cold. Twenty-five extra cots have been secured. Food is also being delivered to twenty-five homebound seniors throughout the prolonged cold weather.
Extra space has also been added in Alexandria, LA. Up to twenty extra cots are available to provide a warm and dry place to escape the cold. The Day shelter remains open throughout the day at increased capacity. Hot coffee, hot chocolate and hot meals are available to warm the body and soul.
The Jackson Area Coordinate will dispatch the Canteen to feed the homeless and under insulated homes in central Jackson. Plans are to continue this operation on nights when the temperature will drop below 25 degrees. Additional, space is also being readied to provide temporary lodging to the rising demand from residents needing a dry and warm place away from the elements.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Area Command – Pascagoula Corps: The Corps has averaged 10 additional people each night as a result of the cold weather. They are expecting to have between 10-15 additional individuals on top of their normal residents through these cold weather nights. As of Friday morning, the Pascagoula Corps is the only cold weather shelter in Jackson County, MS.
The Tupelo shelter has added cots in the gymnasium to provide much needed overflow shelter. Feeding units have also been dispatched to provide food, blankets, and coats to those who refuse to seek shelter.
As the increased demand continues, so does the strain on the resources of The Salvation Army. Donations are urgently needed to offset the added expense of expanded food service and shelter lodgings as well as utility requests. Shelter locations can be found on our website at www.salvationarmyalm.org.