Windsor-Essex shelters at capacity as extreme cold continues
Temperatures are expected to feel like –30 C with the windchill overnight
Homeless shelters in Windsor-Essex are at capacity and preparing to open extra space to ensure no one gets turned away as extreme cold continues to roll across southwestern Ontario.
The Welcome Centre Shelter for Women has been full since noon, but can accommodate two more people as temperatures are expected to feel like –30 C with the windchill overnight, prompting an extreme cold warning from Environment Canada for Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton.
At the Downtown Mission, executive director Ron Dunn said staff are taking special steps to ensure everyone can come in from the cold.
"With the dip in the thermometer tonight, for sure, we're going to be able to open up extra space," he explained, adding the organization is planning to lay mats in a large TV lounge to make space for 20 more people if need be.
Most of the shelter's 103 beds have been full over the past weeks as frigid temperatures have plagued the region.
"As a rule there are just more people experiencing homelessness this year," said Dunn.
Call 911 if you spot someone in distress
Conditions are expected to warm up slightly by Wednesday morning, but Environment Canada is warning residents in southwestern Ontario to take steps to protect themselves from frostbite and hypothermia.
People are also advised to bring their pets indoors and to check on older family members, friends and neighbours.
Dunn said if anyone sees someone who appears to be sleeping on the street or in distress they should call 911.
"Let's get them the help they need."