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As Colder-Than-Normal Temps Grip Big Bend, What Do Residents Need To Know?

Record Cold temperatures
MGN Online
MGN Online

This week, record-low temperatures could be broken for much of north Florida. And, as freezing temperatures enter the Big Bend area, Tallahassee and Leon County officials are making sure they’re prepared to help area residents and the homeless for the cold front.

Cold Night Shelters

Over the next few days, the Tallahassee area is expected to experience colder-than-normal temperatures—in some cases, the wind chill could be in the teens. And, Leon County Emergency Management Director Kevin Peters says he met with faith-based organizations and talked about opening cold night shelters through Wednesday for the homeless from 9 in the evening until 7 in the morning.

“Folks that would need shelter need to report to the homeless shelter at 480 W. Tennessee St. to check in. We’ll transport males that need shelter from the shelter on W. Tennessee St. to the alternate cold-night on Jacob Chapel Baptist Church. That’s at 2333 Lake Bradford Road,” said Peters.

Power Outage?

Peters also met with local agencies to make sure everyone’s prepared.

“Our electric departments reported that we have sufficient electric supply and we don’t anticipate no outages, due to a shortage of power. And, our public health departments advise the cold night shelter addresses the need for our most vulnerable population—those that are homeless and have nowhere to go outside of the cold—and they’re also happy to hear we have sufficient electric supply and we feel we’re in a good position to weather the cold weather,” he added.

City Spokeswoman Lizzy Kelley says residents typically use high amounts of power during the cold weather season, but Tallahassee’s Electric Utility will have extra crews available at least through Tuesday night in case of a power outage. And, she says there’s a helpful tip for residents to remember in the event of an outage.

“If your power is lost, electric wants to remind people to turn off their electric heat pump until the power’s restored because when we restore power, if all those heat pumps are on and pulling the power, it could cause it to short out again and elongate the outage,” said Kelley.

She says some other tips residents should remember include keeping pets inside and covering any outside pipes with a cloth to help prevent freezing and breaking. Kelley says if that happens, customers could be left with a soaked house when the pipes thaw.  So, just trickling a little water out of the faucet can be a big help.

Cold Tough On Low-Income Seniors

As the Big Bend area experiences colder-than-normal temperatures, Amber Tynan with Elder Care Services says it can be tough on the elderly, especially low-income seniors.

“So, right now, we’re averaging 6 to 8 calls per day. And, we’re able to meet that need. But, if that trend continues and the weather continues to stay in the lower temperatures through the next few weeks, we will run out of supplies, so we always put out a plea out to the community asking them to help us so we can keep up with the demand and help distribute those based on the need,” said Tynan.

Tynan says currently, the local agency does not have heaters or blankets in stock, and they expect an increase in calls from seniors in need over the next two months. For more information on how to donate, contact Elder Care Services at 850-921-5554 or visit their website.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.