On Dec. 2nd, Andrea Reedy (left), a Salvation Army pastor and Jennifer Monger (right), a staff member, laid out mats as they prepared for the first night the cold weather shelter was open this winter. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

On Dec. 2nd, Andrea Reedy (left), a Salvation Army pastor and Jennifer Monger (right), a staff member, laid out mats as they prepared for the first night the cold weather shelter was open this winter. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

Near-record cold pushes emergency shelters to their limits

The Salvation Army, expecting to stay open for another week of freezing temps, needs volunteers.

EVERETT — So far, this month has been the third coldest February on record, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle. That’s led to the doors being kept open at many cold weather shelters in Snohomish County for 12 consecutive nights.

Temperatures are forecast to warm slightly into the weekend. But next week, lows are expected to dip below freezing and the shelters expect to be crowded once again.

“It could go down as a record cold month,” said Jeff Michalski, a meteorologist with the weather service. “It’s still calling for below-normal temperatures for the next two weeks.”

During the next few days, high temperatures could reach the low 40s, with temperatures expected to drop Sunday night into the 20s. Some rain or snow could fall, but accumulation is expected only in the higher elevations, according to the weather service.

The lingering low temperatures have kept the cold weather shelter in Everett open every night since Feb. 3.

About 60 people have been showing up each night, according to Andrea Reedy, a Salvation Army pastor. To avoid having to turn people away, Reedy has been placing mattresses in hallways and opening up additional rooms.

Reedy expects to be open at least another week.

Without a dedicated shelter space, workers and volunteers must pack up the mattresses each morning and reset the space at night. With more cold temperatures expected, the Salvation Army is trying to recruit more workers.

“Our biggest need is volunteers and blankets,” Reedy said.

In the mornings, once the emergency shelter space closes for the day, Reedy said some folks head to the library to stay warm, but many don’t leave the Salvation Army property.

“There’s nowhere for them to go hang out during the day,” Reedy said.

Deena Jones, a pastor at the Arlington United Church, said the emergency shelter her church helps host also could be operating for at least another week straight.

“We got overcapacity on Sunday with 31,” Jones said. “I’m afraid this is going to go on for another week or so, and our resources are really being stretched.”

The icy conditions also have put her volunteers at risk.

“A huge concern is making sure volunteers can get to the shelter and home safely. We have a shift change at 11 p.m. and 3 a.m,” Jones said. “We’re hanging in there.”

The Salvation Army is looking for more volunteers to run the cold weather shelter. For more information contact Andrea Reedy at andrea.reedy@usw.salvationarmy.org. In Arlington, to support the shelter, donations can be made to Hands Together by calling 360-435-3259.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

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