Emergency shelter offers escape from cold for those in need

Emergency shelter offers escape from cold for those in need

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Emergency cold weather shelters opened Monday and Tuesday in the Lowcountry, in response to freezing temperatures.

"I got a little tiny tent so will keep some body heat so I'll be alright," Brittany, originally from Alaska, said. She currently lives in Tent City under the I-26 overpass. "I'm pretty much used to 40 below weather so this is nothing to me."

When the forecast calls for freezing temperatures, Hibben United Methodist Church opened its doors to people needing an escape from the cold. It's
the third year the church has operated a warming shelter.

"We say 33 degrees," Al Bradshaw-Whittemore, a shelter coordinator, said. "Of course, if there are extenuating circumstances like wind chill factor, we take that into account."

When operating, the emergency cold shelter at 690 Coleman Blvd. takes guests daily at approximately 8 p.m.

The guests must leave by 7 a.m. the next morning. No guests are accepted after 11 p.m. unless brought by police or due to special circumstances.

A Hibben bus picks up guests in downtown Charleston, taking them back to the church where they get a warm place to sleep plus dinner, breakfast and showers.

The shelter is open to everyone.

"Anyone that does not have a warm shelter, that includes someone that cannot afford heat," Bradshaw-Whittemore said. "Some of these people have jobs, but they cannot afford to rent so stay here. That's the sad part about it."

The shelter operated about 21 days last year, hosting almost 700 people. But not everyone takes advantage. The shelter coordinator said some locals don't want to leave behind their belonging so choose to stay on the streets or in Tent City. Still, Bradshaw-Whittemore said the need for a refuge remains critical.

"Last year when I went down there, there were 15 to 20 tents that you could not even see," Al Bradshaw-Whittemore said."This year I'd say there were almost a hundred tents out there. All you have to do is step outside and feel how the cold goes right through you. Without us, without this facility, they wouldn't have a place to go."
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