As bitter cold sets in, shelters feel the strain
Updated 2:45 pm, Saturday, January 4, 2014
BRIDGEPORT -- As people dig and plow their way out of the latest winter storm, most have shrugged off the fairly moderate snowfall.
But for others, fierce winds and dangerously low temperatures have driven them to local shelters seeking a hot meal and a place to sleep with beds and cots at a premium.
With Friday's daytime highs in the upper teens, shelters throughout Fairfield County extended their hours to help people stay warm. They also pulled out extra cots and sleeping mats to give them a place to rest.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday at an emergency briefing in Hartford that shelters across the state were operating at 120 percent of their usual capacity.
At the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, 40-year-old Pedro Sanchez said Friday night that he was grateful to be sleeping in a tidy bed with a red blanket at the shelter house on Fairfield Avenue.
On past winter nights, Sanchez said he has braved the elements to sleep outside.
"This time it will get worse," he said. "I'm glad for God, that he put me some place other than the street."
Many shelters, including the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, have clients leave during the day so staff can clean and administer other programs in the sleeping space. But as cold snow blew across the city Friday, the shelter allowed people to stay for the day to read books and newspapers and to watch television.