Local warming shelters to open as temperatures drop below freezing

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As the first hard freeze chills the Magic City, shelters are opening their doors Monday to give people a warm place to sleep.

The Boutwell Auditorium will open on Monday night. They will be checking temperatures and requiring masks to get in, with social distancing enforced.

The city of Birmingham is working with the Jefferson County Department of Health to provide flu shots, Hep A vaccines, and rapid COVID-19 tests.

“It’s a great thing that the health department wants to join in with us and do the testing, do the vaccinations to a population that may not get the vaccinations or testing,” Don Lupo with the city of Birmingham said.

Lupo said they aren’t concerned about reaching capacity at the Boutwell, but they will take steps to make sure only the people that need a place to stay are let into the shelter.

“If you come to Boutwell and you’re already staying at a shelter, we’re going to ask you to go back to that shelter, there’s just not enough room for everybody,” said Lupo.

Not every city has a warming shelter. In Calhoun County, there are no shelters currently open. The Right Place in Anniston has partnered with local hotels to give people a warm place to sleep as the chilly nights approach.

“We have a couple of hotels in the area that have worked with us to give us a good rate,” Lori Floyd said. “They have been so gracious to allow us to do a week at a time if the weather is extreme.”

Shelters are reminding people that Giving Tuesday is just around the corner. The donations needed now are a little bit different because of the pandemic.

The Boutwell is asking for donations of bottled water, individually wrapped snacks, travel-size toiletries, and blankets. The Right Place is requesting crank-up or solar-powered flashlights and rain gear.


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