‘Vital part of saving lives’: Spokane warming center opens as temperatures drop

SPOKANE, Wash.– People at the temporary warming shelter are already making themselves at home.

Many of the people who checked in when it opened on Sunday said they are thankful there’s a place for them to stay during this cold snap.

“We got some below nine-degree weather. I mean people will die out here,” said Jonathan Turner. “This is a good thing.”

Turner is staying at the warming center with his wife and won’t have to try and survive the arctic freeze in a tent.

Not only does the warming center give people a place to sleep, but hot meals are provided. Pets are also welcome, and there’s space to store extra belongings.

CEO of the Guardians Foundation Mike Shaw is one of the people running the warming center. He said they’ve set up more than 100 mats and won’t turn anyone away.

“This extra effort to give these individuals an opportunity to get down here for the week is a vital part of saving lives,” Shaw said.

The National Weather Service said temperatures like these haven’t been seen in some parts of the area for about 10 years. It’s not only the cold temperatures they’re concerned about but the duration of how long the frigid temperatures will last.

Miranda Cote is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Taking extra precaution, and staying inside is the best way to avoid any frostbite and other cold-weather health concerns.

“We can underestimate how the weather can impact us,” Cote added.

Turner said he’d like to see a winter resource like this continue throughout the winter, although it’s only scheduled to stay open through Jan. 2. Right now, he’s just thankful to see the community coming together to fill a need.

“When it gets cold outside like this, shelters are full everywhere,” he said. “The reason it gives me hope is because what I’m seeing is people laying down, minding their own business, doing their own thing.”

To keep all of our neighbors safe, spread the message about the warming center so everyone can weather the winter freeze together.

“If you see that person, and you’re at a red light, tell them convention center’s open. All are welcome,” Shaw said.

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