The Salvation Army of Jefferson City, United Way of Central Missouri and local governments are closely monitoring the weather and the need for shelter from the cold.
The lone overnight shelter in Jefferson City — The Salvation Army Center of Hope at 927 Jefferson St. — provides “cold cots” that allow people to spend the night when the temperature drops below 32 degrees overnight.
Forecasters expect temperatures to remain well below freezing at least through Friday, not only at night but throughout the day.
Because of the need to social distance to prevent spread of the coronavirus, The Salvation Army’s shelter only has room for 14 cots.
But even with the bitter cold weather over the past two nights, the nonprofit has had only seven people use the cold cots on average.
Lori Benson, Central Missouri area Salvation Army director of community relations, said the nonprofit has worked with the city of Columbia and other partners to open extra shelters there because Harbor House (in Columbia) expected demand for shelter to climb. Columbia has also opened an overnight shelter at Wabash (bus) Station, and some Columbia churches are offering overnight shelter, she said.
“There are a few warming shelters (in Jefferson City), but The Salvation Army is the only overnight shelter,” Benson said.
However, some day shelters, like Missouri River Regional Library, may have been closed Monday because of Presidents Day. And if it weren’t a holiday, they might close because of the winter storm.
Center of Hope Director Brian Vogeler said The Salvation Army is doing what it can for folks.
“We are operating during the day. We let people come into our waiting area because it’s so cold out there,” Vogeler said.
United Way of Central Missouri President Ann Bax said it appeared people who needed shelter became aware early on that a serious cold spell was expected and began seeking it.
“People who do not have consistent homes were making plans,” Bax said.
Those plans could have involved staying with an acquaintance for a day or two, she said. Should some overstay their welcome, room remains available at The Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army, United Way and Common Ground Community Building have coordinated a plan of their own, should the Center of Hope shelter fill up, she said. That plan involves another site, she said.
For help connecting with resources in Central Missouri, people should dial 211, a United Way help line.
“It’s going to stay cold,” Vogeler said. “We’re trying to do the best we can.”
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services lists four designated warming centers in Jefferson City (and advises calling first to confirm availability):
Capital Mall, 3600 Country Club Drive; 573-893-5323; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday.
Clarke Senior Center, 1310 Linden Drive; 573-634-8020; 8 a.m.-4 p.m Monday through Friday; closed during severe weather and on holidays.
Missouri River Regional Library, 214 Adams St.; 573-634-2464; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
The Salvation Army of Jefferson City can provide overnight cots during cold weather. For more information, call 573-635-1975.
For a list of additional warming shelters across Mid-Missouri, visit newstribune.com/warmingcenters.
This article was edited at 5:25 p.m. Feb. 15, 2021, to add the phone number for Capital Mall.