Homeless Seek Refuge from "Life-Threatening" Arctic Front

Homeless Seek Refuge from "Life-Threatening" Arctic Front

By: Julia Deng
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - A cold front slammed Odessa Monday night, dragging temperatures down to the low 20's and forcing dozens of homeless people to seek refuge at local shelters.

"Cold weather like this is a big problem when you don't have a place to go at night," said Joe Honeycutt, a Tyler transplant who arrived in Odessa on Christmas and stayed with the Salvation Army while looking for work.

"The volunteers [at the Salvation Army of Odessa] have been a blessing. They fed us on Christmas [with] a huge meal, gave us backpacks full of blankets, food, hygiene products [and] everything you're going to need."

However, hundreds of the Basin's needy were not fortunate enough to take advantage of those limited resources.

"I saw a gentleman [outside] the store the other day, and he had one shoe on and one shoe off... and was just freezing out there," said Honeycutt. "It touched my heart to know that there's a place that I can stay where I know I'm not going to be that way."

44 percent of the nation's homeless are not that lucky, and endure harsh winters unsheltered, according to a 2010 report published by the National Coalition for the Homeless.

The same study, published to "raise awareness of the dangers and consequences" of cold weather on people experiencing homelessness, found hypothermia kills 700 homeless people annually in the United States.

The report said "life-threatening hypothermia" can set in at 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures dipped to as low as 20 degrees Monday night in parts of Odessa.

Salvation Army directors are asking the public to donate winter accessories, blankets and hygiene products - including soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes - as temperatures continue dropping and more people seek refuge at their shelters.

Donated items can be dropped off between 5 and 9 p.m. at 810 East 11th Street, or arranged to be picked up by calling 432-332-0738.