The shelter at Manatee County’s Salvation Army has had to turn people away as many seek shelter from Winter Storm Grayson as it heads up the East Coast.
With temperatures forecasted to drop into the low 40s or high 30s, the shelter in Bradenton was expected to reach capacity Wednesday evening for the third day in a row.
The Salvation Army’s shelter at 1204 14th St. W. in Bradenton is made to hold 150 people but was over capacity on Monday night, taking in 164 people and again Tuesday night taking in 153 people.
“We have had to turn people away this week,” Salvation Army of Manatee County spokeswoman Kelly French said Wednesday.
Windy conditions are expected to continue even as a cold rain leaves the area, and a wind chill advisory is in effect overnight into Thursday. The National Weather Service is predicting a northerly wind of 7 to 16 mph, with gusts up to 21 mph.
Those needing to seek shelter from the cold again are reminded to arrive early, French said.
According to the 2017 Point-in-Time Survey, there are 570 homeless people in Manatee County, so many could be left out in the cold.
Just after 4 p.m. Wednesday, people hoping to secure a warm bed to sleep were already lining up outside the shelter in Bradenton.
Robert Murray, 44, was patiently waiting outside the shelter after having just moved to Bradenton five days before, he explained.
“I came for a fresh start,” Murray said as he shivered in the cold breeze. “I’ve got my goals together. I’m going to get a job and keep it.”
In Beaufort, S.C., where Murray had been homeless for years, he used to work picking oysters, he said. There, he was use to colder weather, but the current cold temperatures Wednesday were still too cold, he added.
Paulie Meier and his girlfriend had already been staying at the shelter before the cold weather arrived, he said. The couple found themselves homeless recently after they received a 24-hour eviction notice.
“So, we have been here for the last couple months,” Meier said. “I just got a better job so hopefully we won’t be here much longer.”
While the Salvation Army knows it does not have enough beds for all the local homeless, the hope is that people will turn to family and friends first, French explained.
In Sarasota County, the Salvation Army’s shelter, Center of Hope at 1400 10th St., Sarasota, has not had to turn anyone away this week, according to their spokeswoman Glenda Leonard. The shelter has a 250-bed capacity but can accommodate others on mats if needed.
“We would not turn anybody away unless they are behaving badly,” Leonard said. “We are nowhere near capacity. So far, no one has been turned away.”
On Tuesday night, the shelter took in 97 for emergency shelter because of the cold, but it was not at capacity since they only have about 135 people currently housed as part of their residential programs.
In Sarasota County, there are 877 homeless people, according to the 2017 Point-in-Time Survey.
Sarasota County emergency officials coordinate with community and faith organizations to open up additional temporary shelters, according to county spokesman Jason Bartolone. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, the Grace United Methodist Church, 400 E. Field Ave., Venice and the New Hope Community Church, 5600 S. Biscayne Drive, North Port will open its doors for those seeking shelter from the cold.
Grace United has 23 cots to offer people, according to the county.