NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As freezing temperatures approached Nashville, volunteers worked throughout the night to get those living on the streets into shelters. As temperatures are not expected to get above freezing until Monday, they plan to be busy throughout the weekend.
“We knew going into the holiday weekend, we knew there would be challenges, but then having the weather on top of that, it’s a little bit extra,” said Melanie Ober, Community Development Director with Room in the Inn.
Ober knows all too well how the staff and volunteers at the Room in the Inn are always working to help, but on the night of extreme weather, the preparations are a little different.
“We want to maximize capacity everywhere we can,” explained Ober.
As temperatures drop dangerously low, preparation is not only key but necessary.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s overwhelming for me, and I have a home to go to tonight, so if you’re living in chaos and you’re living in crisis, this is very overwhelming,” Ober said. “We plan for the worst and hope for the best always.”
Across Middle Tennessee, preparations for the snow had been in motion since earlier in the week. Nonprofits have been loading up on necessities and partnering with the Metro Homeless Impact Division while cold weather shelters have opened their doors for those trying to escape the bitter cold.
“The purpose of our low barrier shelter is to ensure couples, with pets, and people who have been barred from other shelters have a place to come to our shelter to remain safe and warm,” said Renee Pratt, Executive Director of Metro Social Services.
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For days, Metro officials have been warning about the cold temps and urging everyone to find shelter.
“This is to ensure our homeless neighbors get in safely and hopefully get in early before the weather sets inclement and we can’t get people in like we need to,” explained Pratt.
The Nashville Office of Emergency Management’s Emergency Support Unit (OEM ESU) will conduct cold patrols Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
“The holiday season and dangerously low temperatures can cause some capacity concerns. So, if you go to Hands on Nashville there is an option for you to volunteer to assist with WeGo Central and help them greet our participants so they can move on to the shelter as quickly as possible,” said April Calvin, Interm Director with the Metro Homeless Impact Division.
During the cold patrols, OEM ESU Members will provide blankets, gloves, hand warmers and other care items to those who would like them.
“It’s December, there is still cold weather that’s going to come in January and February as well so we don’t want to take our foot off the gas,” said Ober.
As the extreme winter weather settles into Middle Tennessee, there are several tips you should keep in mind to make sure you and your family stay safe:
- Winter weather terms and alerts to be aware of this season
- What to include in a winter weather survival kit for your car
- Middle Tennessee residents should take these steps to prevent frozen pipes this week
- How to prepare your home for ‘the big chill’ in Middle Tennessee
- What should you do if your power goes out in freezing weather?