Shelters prepare for cold weather during COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus

Photo: Waterfront rescue mission

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Several shelters will be open, ready to take in those who need a break from the cold.

Waterfront Rescue Mission is one of those shelters, they expect a 10-15% increase in people staying at the shelter. This is the first cold-weather day since the first COVID-19 cases were reported in our area.

“Here at the Waterfront they say you got a friend in Waterfront, you’ve got a friend,” said Antonio Kimble, who stays at the Waterfront.

Kimble has been at the Waterfront Rescue Mission for 45 days. “Do what’s best for me. Take care of my needs,” he explained.

He’s been pleased to see all of the precautions the shelter has put in place to make sure he and everyone else who stays there is safe.

“They do abide by the rules and procedures around here. That’s a good deal,” said Kimble.

The Waterfront Rescue Mission has a plan ready to go for the colder temperatures.

“Designated a number of areas for the men to stay at and shelter in tonight that we don’t normally use,” said Rick Fisher, the Director of the Waterfront Rescue Mission in Mobile.

They plan on converting a classroom and the chapel into a dorm, if needed. Each man who wants to stay at the mission will also have to fill out a questionnaire and get their temperatures checked before they will be allowed to stay. “We’d rather err on the side of caution than be exposed to an outbreak,” explained Fisher.

Waterfront officials say they’re most concerned about the winter months here in Mobile. “I’m more concerned about come January because then it will be consistently cold outside, there will probably be more people who are receiving eviction notices, unfortunately. So we’ll anticipate a rise in those numbers at that time, and we’ll make sure we plan accordingly,” said Fisher.

Kimble says he’s grateful for places like Waterfront Rescue Mission. “It feels good to come off the streets. Like you said it’s cold outside. They’re going to be coming in from the cold and it’s safe,” said Kimble.

The Waterfront Rescue Mission says they have a number of partners they work with to shelter those who need it, like the Salvation Army, and they all follow the same protocols. They add they have the same precautions and procedures in place at their Pensacola campus.

The Mobile County Health Department says they don’t want anyone to be turned away from a shelter in ‘times like these.’ The health department reached out to several shelters around Mobile ahead of the cold weather and are working with them. MCHD says they can provide 30 minute rapid testing for anyone who shows up to a shelter this week and needs a negative COVID-19 test to enter the shelter.

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