Homeless Shelters Prepare for Winter Storm

Meghan McRoberts

OMAHA(KPTM)- When cold weather moves in, so do the crowds at the Open Door Mission.

Those that stay there are expecting extra company after the threat of a winter storm expecting to move in this week.

"Especially the wind and snow, I just can't imagine what it would be like out stranded in it or living in it,"Greg Montgomery said. He has been staying at the Open Door Mission for six weeks.

Volunteers have been preparing since Sunday to prepare the shelter for the storm. Candace Gregory with the Open Door Mission said Tuesday that safety is a top priority when more guests are expected. "You get flood lights, flash lights, first aid kits, things that you don't just think of," Gregory explained.

Gregory said extra mats are made available for people to sleep on in overflow rooms. Extra blankets are washed to give each guest at least three. Gregory said 3,000 blankets are ready.

"I've been here 18 years and I can count on one hand how many times we've actually had a warning to be prepared for something like this," Gregory said.

A big advantage of the notice is being able to prepare for the risk of a power outage. Volunteers have made nearly 600 extra sandwiches to serve should they not be able to cook with an oven or microwave.

"A sandwich is better than nothing," Montgomery said. Gregory still plans on being able to serve at least 2,000 meals a day.

Gregory said the water still runs at the shelter in a power outage. That means toilets will flush and guests can still shower.

She also warned that the Open Door Mission might not be able to run its pick-up shuttle service. She advised that anyone expecting to stay at the shelter during the storm make plans to get there by Wednesday night.