WLOS ABC13 - Search Results
Homeless Seek Relief From Cold
A small window sign in Downtown Asheville says it all. "Code Purple," it reads.
Inside, Western Carolina Rescue Ministries is scrambling to accommodate the expected overflow crowd.
A Code Purple is issued when temperatures are below freezing. Asheville area shelters say they won't turn anyone away unless they're considered a danger to others.
"Everybody's on alert," says executive director Micheal Woods. "This is the time of year we've all been planning for."
Woods says the earlier than usual chill has his staff busy. They're preparing hot meals and bracing for a big crowd.
"But that wind, you know I'm 68 years old," says one homeless woman. "I can't afford to get out you know. Sleep out and stuff like that."
Sometimes expanding capacity, requires creativity.
"We figured out that the best thing for us to handle overflow," Woods says as he pulls a pad from a huge pile. "It's just a portable exercise mat."
He had thirty of them shipped in this week, just in time for the big chill.
"We're gonna handle as many people as we can to make sure people are gonna be safe," Woods says.
He hopes this time next year, their expansion plans are complete. Those plans would connect two buildings and add 90 beds, along with classroom and training spaces.
"(If) There was a big event happening we're gonna do more," he explains. "But the space is designed to help us to help people stabilize."
But that's 2014. For Woods, the immediate challenge is this weekend. With so many more turning to shelters as a matter of survival.