As old man winter keeps his icy grip on the nation a winter weather system will spread snow showers into South Carolina’s Upstate and Midlands late Thursday evening. Temperatures will continue dropping and the weekend will be frigid. The highs in the Upstate will only reach the mid 30s, with lows dropping into the teens overnight.
Homeless shelters are seeing an increase in traffic as more people try to stay warm. Frank Kunz is Executive Director for The Cooperative Ministries in Columbia and says that the shelter is running at capacity. ” When it is cold – for sure, we’re going to have 240 people at the shelter. Who it effects, is the city,” he explained. “The city of Columbia is responsible for overflow. In other words, when we get up to 240 people and it’s below 36 degrees -or there’s severe inclement weather, then the city of Columbia takes over and they open an overflow shelter at Martin Luther King Park.”
Kunz says that only some shelters are equipped for those with children. “One of the biggest gaps that we have in services is places that are not adequately equipped to take in families with children.
“The Columbia Family Shelter is one that does an excellent job. St. Lawrence Place also does an excellent job at servicing that population.” He added that the Women’s Shelter also works well in serving homeless women.
Frankie Powell, Vice President for development at Greenville’s Miracle Hill Ministries’ Rescue Mission says they are open to anyone who needs it, for whatever reason. She says they typically will house 550 people every night, but have made arrangements for more.
“During the cold weather, when it’s as cold as it is right now,” says Powell, “after all of our regular beds are filled, we have a cold weather shelter where people can come in off the streets. We have mats on our gym floor. And right now we’re averaging additional 150 people coming in.”
Many of the overnight guests arrive late in the evening she says. “Typically they come in about 8:30 or 9:00 o’clock, we feed them a meal, we make showers available to them, and then we give them blankets and bed linens. And then they get up the next morning, have breakfast, then leave.”
Miracle Hill Ministries operates similar shelters in Spartanburg and Gaffney. Salvation Army as well as other shelters and organizations are seeing a substantial increase in the homeless looking for a warm place to sleep.