WHEELING - People looking to stay warm as temperatures drop into the single digits and below zero during the next few days can seek refuge at shelters in Ohio and Belmont counties.
While a brief warm-up with above freezing temperatures is expected Saturday, rain and snow will return Sunday with plummeting temperatures. On Monday and Tuesday, the temperature will struggle to reach above zero. The Wheeling Salvation Army's emergency shelter at 140 16th St. and used by the homeless, also will take in people whose homes don't have sufficient heat. When that shelter reaches capacity, the organization's 3333 Eoff St. church also is opened up to serve as a warming shelter. Salvation Army social worker Janine Pietras said she takes in at least six people each winter seeking warmth whose homes are too cold.
"It's usually local people who live in the neighborhood," Pietras said this morning.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Wheeling Salvation Army social worker Janine Pietras, left, and volunteer and shelter resident Laurie Witzberger fold winter clothes this morning donated by Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe.
She noted there are 17 people using the homeless shelter including two families. The 16th Street shelter's capacity is 35 people. Pietras encourages people to call ahead at 304-233-4400.
Youth Services System also operates its Winter Freeze Shelter at its headquarters, 87 15th St., which opens at 10 p.m. nightly. It is not necessary to call ahead to use the YSS shelter.
Belmont County has several locations it uses as warming shelters, but people must call to make arrangements. The locations in Belmont County are: Bellaire Salvation Army, 315 37th St., Bellaire, 740-676-6225; Colerain Fire Company Social Hall, U.S. 250, Colerain, 740-699-0425; Spirit of 76 Fire Department, 53890 Key-Bellaire Road, Bellaire, 740-676-7676; Flushing United Methodist Church, Flushing, 740-968-0928; Flushing Christian Church, 201 E. High St., Flushing, 740-968-4476; Grace Presbyterian Church, 7 N. Fourth St, Martins Ferry, 740-633-6417; Martins Ferry Schools, 5001 Ayers Limestone Road, Martins Ferry, 740-310-4550; Neffs United Methodist Church, 54047 Belmont St., Neffs, 740-676-3450; Thoburn United Methodist Church, 209 E. Main St., St. Clairsville, 740-695-2893; Powhatan Point Municipal Building, 104 Mellott St., Powhatan Point, 740-391-0155 or 304-312-0155; Yorkville United Methodist Church, 121 Third St., Yorkville, 740-859-3013.
For more information, call the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency at 740-695-5984.
According to Tom Hart, director of Marshall County Emergency Management, several volunteer fire departments, faith-based groups and public building throughout Marshall County are utilized as temporary warming shelters during extremely cold temperatures. Although Hart said these shelters usually don't see much traffic, his office is still preparing for more frigid days next week for those who might need them.
"It could be anywhere from the single digits to below zero temperatures next week and that can be extremely dangerous," Hart said. "One of the things we are trying to get people to do is get pets inside during these temperatures extremes and check on elderly neighbors, family and friends, especially if they have any special needs."
Brad Varlas, treasurer and trustee of the Moundsville Volunteer Fire Department, said the department will open as a shelter if they receive a call from the county's emergency management office.
If there is a need, Varlas said, the department will open its social hall to the public and provide food and drink and even cots if someone needs to stay for the night.
Varlas said providing shelter for the homeless is generally not an issue in Moundsville because of the city's small numbers, but the department still welcomes them if they need a place to get warm.
"If there is an issue with someone who is homeless, in that circumstance, they can go to the police department or emergency management office and they can make arrangements for them," Varlas said.
Pet owners are reminded to bring pets indoors or make proper provisions for them outside. Pets will need fresh water and food which can rapidly freeze under weather conditions forecast in coming days.