The frigid temperatures that have whipped through Florida have filled up Manatee County’s Salvation Army shelter.
The shelter was over capacity at capacity on Monday night as it took in 164 people, said Salvation Army spokeswoman Kelly French. On Tuesday night, the shelter was again over capacity as it took in 153 people off the cold streets.
The shelter is designed to hold 150 people.
The shelter, at 1204 14th St. W. in Bradenton, opens up from 6-8 p.m. every night and takes in the county’s needy for both emergency overnight stays and long-term case management programs.
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“We expect to be at capacity early every single night this week,” French said. “We are recommending that people come earlier, because the demand is so high. Don’t show up at 7:30 p.m., because we will probably be full.”
That demand is due to the biting cold that has gripped the country over the past 24 hours – a reality that is not expected to let up any time soon, even in Florida.
Highs across Manatee County throughout the workweek do not make it out of the 50s, with overnight lows most nights dropping down into the 30s.
On Wednesday, a 50 percent chance of rain is expected to come along with the bitter temperatures, too, according to the National Weather Service. Thursday night is expected to be the coldest, with lows in some areas slated to drop down to 35.
The men’s shelter in Bradenton holds up to 110 men each night, and the shelter for women and children has five rooms, with a sixth room only serving women alone. When these spaces are occupied, the website says, common areas are provided for emergency overnight shelter.
Individuals who stay at the shelter can choose to seek out further assistance by enrolling in shelter programs.
In the programs, each client works with a case manager to develop a plan that outlines their goals and objectives, which eventually contributes to the overall goal of finding long-term sustainable housing. Enrollees participate in life skills classes on budgeting and personal finance and are also given links to other community resources, such as legal aid and medical and dental care.
The cold is especially dangerous for animals, as well.
Manatee County’s Animal Services department announced that it is in need of gently used blankets and towels to keep current and incoming animals warm. Donations can be dropped off at the Palmetto shelter, at 305 25th St. W. The shelter is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Animal Services officials remind owners to bring your pets inside your homes over the next several cold days and nights.
In Sarasota County, the predicted drop in temperatures has prompted officials to remind residents to make preparations.
“When combined with breezy north winds, minimum wind chills will be in the low to mid 30s. It is important that the community prepare for colder than usual conditions by taking precautions to protect their homes, families and pets,” said Sarasota’s Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane.
Shelters in Sarasota:
- North County: Salvation Army -Center of Hope at 1400 10th St., Sarasota. The location will conduct its normal cold weather operation plan Tuesday through Friday, county officials said, which includes the front porch opening at 4 p.m, with intake beginning at 6:30 p.m. The front porch will re-open at 4:30 a.m. and remain open until 5 a.m., when the welcome center opens.
- South County: Grace United Methodist Church at 400 E. Field Ave., Venice. The church will open at 4:30 p.m. both Wednesday and Thursday. A hot meal will be provided.
- New Hope Community Church at 5600 S. Biscayne Drive, North Port. The church will open at 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday and 7 p.m. on Thursday.