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The Springfield Expo Center is among buildings being used to serve residents in need.
The Springfield Expo Center is among buildings being used to serve residents in need.

Multiple warming centers open as extreme cold weather arrives

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The Springfield Expo Center is among facilities  being opened up as warming centers as severe cold weather threatens the area.

The Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management in a news release posted a list of locations to help residents in need.

“Make sure residences and vehicles are winterized, because as we know, nothing works well when it’s this cold. Consider modifying your travel plans, and definitely limit your exposure to this weather. Frostbite and hypothermia can happen very quickly," said Larry Woods, OEM director, in the release.

At the city-owned Expo Center, 635 St. Louis St., The Connecting Grounds is operating a warming center Dec. 22-24. It opens at noon today, and will be available through 7 p.m., with a 7 a.m. start time on Friday and Saturday.

In a Facebook announcement video yesterday, The Connecting Grounds pastor Christie Love said city leaders were instrumental in the Expo Center opening up to assist the church's efforts to house homeless and other residents in need.

"The temperature is going to drop so very fast Thursday that it is critical that we have places for people to come in and get warm. Being outside for even a little bit, we have high risk of hypothermia, high risk of frostbite," Love said in the video. "There will be lives lost in this city if we don't get people inside."

People who go to the Expo Center warming center also will have access to meals, she said, noting the downtown building would not be open for stays overnight.

Love said Grace United Methodist Church, 600 S. Jefferson Ave., is among buildings that will have overnight stays available. Tonight, she said, there would be capacity for around 325 people at overnight shelters, but she estimates the need is upwards of 1,000.

"We need more church spaces to open Thursday and Friday night," Love said. "Volunteers and buildings are the things we still need so very badly."  

Resources have been set up on the websites of the city of Springfield and The Connecting Grounds for cold weather assistance.

Additionally, Community Foundation of the Ozarks Inc. and the Jeannette L. Musgrave Foundation have announced emergency grants to the tune of $23,500 to help provide more staffing at Springfield shelters.

“When need suddenly arises, we’re grateful to have such a close relationship with the Musgrave Foundation to be able to respond with coordinated funding,” said Brian Fogle, CFO president and CEO, in a news release. “We recognize that these grants are a short-term solution and encourage anyone who has a passion for helping others to seek out volunteer opportunities at cold-weather shelters.”


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