DAYTONA BEACH — Some teeth-chattering nights forecast to start in a few days have those who look out for the area's homeless people already planning how to keep as many unsheltered people warm as possible.
At Daytona Beach's First Step Shelter, heaters in the fenced-in safe zone will be switched on and blankets will be provided. Later this year the shelter on Daytona Beach's west side will have a new retractable wall in its multipurpose room that will provide a cold weather shelter space for future winters and hurricanes.
At least two Volusia County churches and a social service agency will also open their doors for a few nights while the mercury is plunging.
First United Port Orange will provide 25 beds to those with nowhere else to go, First United Ormond Beach will offer 20 beds, and Derbyshire Place will have another 20 beds available. A third church might also be able to provide beds for a few nights.
"Right now it looks like we will open up cold weather shelters on Sunday night and Monday night based on predicted temperatures and wind chill," Halifax Urban Ministries Executive Director Buck James said Friday. "Whenever the temperature and wind chill is predicted to be 40 degrees or colder, we implement cold weather shelter."
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Anyone interested in going to a cold weather shelter in eastern Volusia County should arrive at 340 North St. in Daytona Beach by 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday to sign up on a first-come, first-served basis, James said.
Votran buses will begin loading around 5:30 p.m. to transport people to the three locations. Only small packs and personal items are allowed, but wheelchairs can be accommodated, he said.
When the cold weather refugees arrive at each location they'll receive a hot dinner and be provided with a cot and blanket. In the morning they'll be offered coffee and breakfast before being picked up by Votran at 7 a.m. and dropped off at North Street or a public place like a library if it's still cold.
While beds will be available, a percentage of local homeless people usually choose to just hunker down and sleep outside despite the cold, James said. Various groups have been giving out blankets to local homeless people the last few months.
Anyone who wants to get out of the chilly weather will most likely be accommodated.
"In recent years we haven't had to turn away anyone who wanted shelter," James said.
DeLand shelter's cold weather plan
In DeLand, the Neighborhood Center of West Volusia is getting ready to provide beds for homeless people on the county's west side, where it could be even colder in a few nights.
Waylan Niece, interim executive director of the Neighborhood Center, said his agency will provide 20 extra beds Sunday and Monday nights, and possibly Tuesday night depending on the weather. Only adults can be accommodated, and everyone will have to wear a mask because of COVID.
Check-in at the nonprofit's 30-bed shelter, called The Bridge and located at 434 S. Woodland Blvd., will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. each of the nights. Food and a movie will be provided to the overnight guests, and at 10 p.m. lights will be turned out so they can sleep.
Cots, blankets and pillows will all be provided. They'll get up by 6:30 a.m., be offered a light breakfast and leave by 8 a.m.
Extra cold weather beds in Flagler
The Sheltering Tree will open a cold-weather shelter Sunday and Monday nights at the Church on the Rock not only for the homeless, but for anyone who is without heat. Flagler County officials urge residents to take advantage of this option if the alternative is using a heating method that could pose a fire hazard.
"Space heaters need space — at least 3 feet — away from anything that can burn," said Flagler County Fire Marshal Jerry Smith. "This space should also be a kid-free zone."
Other home-heating safety tips include:
Never use the oven to heat the home
Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed
All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
Screen fireplaces to contain sparks
"We also ask that you close the bedroom door before you doze," Smith said. "It will help to keep heat in the room and if fire breaks out, it buys you time to get out of the house. A fire needs oxygen to burn. A closed door keeps more oxygen in the room and away from the fire."
The criteria for opening the cold-weather shelter is based on an overnight temperature that dips below 40 degrees.
Church on the Rock is located at 2200 N. State St. The cold-weather shelter will open at 5:30 p.m. each evening and will close at 8 a.m. the following day.
Transportation is available for those who need it through Flagler County. There are two routes that follow the schedules below:
Hidden Trails Community Center, 3 p.m.
Espanola Community Center, 3:30 p.m.
Bunnell Free Clinic, 4 p.m.
First United Methodist Church in Bunnell, 4:30 p.m.
Veteran’s Park Flagler Beach, 3 p.m.
Flagler County Social Services, 3:15 p.m.
A1A Tennis Center, 5633 N Oceanshore Blvd., 3:30 p.m.
Dollar Tree (by Carrabas), 4:10 p.m.
Palm Coast Main Branch Library, 4:30 p.m. (possibly as late as 4:40 p.m. depending on traffic)
The Sheltering Tree, 386-437-3258, is under the umbrella of the Flagler County Family Assistance Center and is a non-denominational civic organization that was created in 2011 to provide cold-weather sheltering during cold nights in Flagler County.
Reporter Nikki Ross contributed to this report
You can reach Eileen at Eileen.Zaffiro@news-jrnl.com
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: With temperatures expected to plummet, cold weather shelters will open