I have repeatedly said that the Fayetteville Senior Center should be open for the homeless and for all when temperatures remain below freezing.
I get a lot of blank stares from some who apparently don't agree. But compassionate people do agree. Thanks for our local papers for reporting what is being done in Rogers and Springdale.
COLD WEATHER COMFORTS: Shelter Offers Warm Haven
SPRINGDALE SENIOR CENTER OPEN AROUND THE CLOCK
Thursday, January 7, 2010
SPRINGDALE — City officials are urging residents to come in from the cold.
Those without heat, stranded motorists and the homeless can find refuge at the John Powell Senior Center, at the corner of Grove and Park streets.
The city sent 120 cots and blankets to the Powell Center, said Wyman Morgan, Springdale director of administration and finance. The Parks and Recreation Department will help staff the shelter.
“We have used what we learned from last year’s ice storm to be ready for similar emergencies,” Morgan said.
City officials decided Wednesday to keep the center open 24 hours a day until the cold snap passes.
Cold temperatures will be magnified by wind expected to gust to nearly 40 mph. Wind chill temperatures could be as low as minus 20 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
The shelter is a safer alternative to staying cold or using dangerous heating methods, said Sgt. Shane Pegram of the Police Department.
Police officers, firefighters and other city employees went door-to-door last year to warn residents about the danger of jury-rigged heating systems. Some people used outdoor cooking grills for inside heating during the storm. Other unusual attempts at heating inside homes included a fire inside a barrel and a campfire on a wooden floor, Morgan said.
Northwest Technical Institute decided Wednesday to close today and Friday. Registration and new student orientation were pushed back to Monday and Tuesday.
In Rogers, the Adult Wellness Center, behind Frisco Station Mall, and the Rogers Activity Center, 315 W. Olive St., are scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Saturday.
“We haven’t dealt with cold weather like this in more than 20 years, we need to be prepared for anything,” said Mayor Steve Womack. “We have no idea how many people might show up, it could be 10 or it be a couple of hundred.”
In Fayetteville, the Salvation Army and Seven Hills Homeless Center have opened emergency shelters, and the Yvonne Richardson Center is available if more room is needed.
Elkins City Hall, 1874 Stokenbury Road, will remain open throughout tonight and Friday night for those seeking a warm place, according to city officials.
There aren’t any specific plans for other small towns or rural areas, although churches, community centers or fire stations could be opened to the public quickly if needed, said Rick Johnson, a health specialist with the Washington County Department of Emergency Management.
National Guard units have been instructed to open armories as shelters if the need arises. Those instructions were part of a statewide emergency declaration issued Wednesday by Gov. Mike Beebe.
John Gore and Steve Caraway contributed to this report.