White Flag policy in effect for homeless shelters as nightly temperatures get dangerously low
Doctors want to remind people that it only takes 15 to 20 minutes for hypothermia to set in if a person is not dressed properly and the temperature is below freezing.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - A white flag blows in the wind outside Wayside Christian Mission on East Jefferson Street.
That flag indicates the 'Coalition for the Homeless' has declared a 'White Flag Day,' meaning temperatures in Louisville are 35 degrees or below with wind chill. As a result, three of the city's shelters will not turn anyone away.
Damon Eubanks, a business administration major at Jefferson Community and Technical College, who works at a downtown Louisville pizza place is staying at Wayside Christian Mission.
"It's been very challenging. Very hard to get by," said Eubanks. "I would get off work and be like, 'I gotta find some place to get warm, warm, warm, and the only place I can think of was the Greyhound.'"
Nina Moseley with Wayside Christian Mission says on Monday night the shelter was nearly 100 people over its 300 person capacity. The beds were full and the rest of the people slept on mats.
"We do not want people in our city to freeze to death. That's not what Louisville is about," said Moseley.
In February 2015, a man died of hypothermia in Louisville. While that hasn't happened in Louisville in 2016, the Fayette County Coroner says 41-year-old Robert Eugene Johnson was found dead Monday morning behind a business in downtown Lexington as a result of exposure to cold weather.
"That breaks our heart because these are human beings. These are our citizens. They may be on hard times and we want to make sure that these folks are taken care of," said Moseley.
Wayside also has a program called 'Samaritan Patrol' in which volunteers go out in times of extreme weather to search for people in need of shelter. Those volunteers bring coffee and sandwiches and provide transportation to area shelters.
Doctors want to remind people that it only takes 15 to 20 minutes for hypothermia to set in if a person is not dressed properly and the temperature is below freezing. Alcohol can speed up the process.
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