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Mayor Gray Announces Measures to Help the Homeless during Snowstorm & Extreme Cold Weather Emergency

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mayor Gray Announces Measures to Help the Homeless during Snowstorm & Extreme Cold Weather Emergency

Services Are Available to Those Who Need a Warm Place to Stay During Dangerous Weather

(WASHINGTON, DC) – In response to the severe cold weather emergency, Mayor Vincent C. Gray has declared a Cold Weather Emergency, marshaling together all necessary government services to ensure the safety of the District’s homeless population in need of emergency shelter.

In coordination with the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA ), WMATA is providing buses to serve as warming places to keep homeless individuals out of the frigid cold and bracing wind. The buses became available at 1:00 this afternoon and will be on the streets until 7:00 am Wednesday. Buses are located at:

• 5th and C Streets NW

• Union Station (Massachusetts Avenue NE, directly in front of the building)

• 17th and H Streets NW

• West End Library, 23rd and L Streets NW

• 27th and K Streets NW

When the warming buses go out of service at 7 a.m. Wednesday, homeless persons may go to open shelters and District government buildings (if the D.C. government is open tomorrow).

Emergency Warming Shelters. In the event DC government offices are closed due to continuing inclement weather, some buildings typically open for public use also will be closed. However, hypothermia shelters (including designated recreation centers), may open earlier in the day. Activation and opening of hypothermia shelters will be determined by the severity of the weather.

Involuntary Transport. Every effort will be made by homeless outreach teams to secure an individual’s cooperation with voluntary transport to a warm and safe setting. If someone refuses to go inside, the Department of Behavioral Health and Metropolitan Police Department are fully prepared to exercise authority under DC law to transport those homeless individuals with a mental illness who are not able to protect themselves from the extreme cold to medical and emergency facilities.

A Cold Weather Emergency is called when the temperature falls, or is forecasted to fall, to 15˚F or below (including wind chill) or 20˚F (including wind chill), and one or more of the following conditions exists:

• Steady precipitation for 60 consecutive minutes

• Ice Storms and/or freezing rain

• Snow accumulation of 3 inches or more

• Sustained winds of more than 10-15 miles per hour

• A wind chill below 0˚F

• Other meteorological conditions or threats as determined by HSEMA

Residents are encouraged to contact shelter hotlines to request help homeless persons and on the street now, providers and the public may contact the Shelter Hotline at:

• 1-800-535-7252

• 202-399-7093

• 311 or 211

• Email uposh@upo.org and tweet @dchypothermia. Include the time when the reporter saw the person, the location of the sighting, a description of the person’s appearance (such as clothing), and name if known.

Pets should be brought indoors during hypothermia alerts and extreme cold weather. To report cruelty, neglect, and animal emergencies 24 hours a day, call the Washington Humane Society at 202-723-5730.

“Our Cold Weather Emergency response teams are ready to hit the streets to make sure that no one is left out in the cold,” said Mayor Gray. “I applaud our outreach teams and first responders and continue to remind residents to be on the lookout for any vulnerable neighbors.”

For more information on ways to prepare for, and respond to, extreme cold, visit HSEMA’s website here.