Where to go to escape the cold

Where to go to escape the cold
By: Carly O'Keefe
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn made a visit to the Heartland Thursday in light of widespread power outages in central Illinois. Quinn spoke about the need for electric companies--specifically Ameren-- to maintain their infrastructure so that these outages don't leave Illinoisans without a way to keep warm in their homes. But Quinn says, should folks be stuck in the cold, the state is there to help.
"Tonight it's going to be pretty cold, and we're going to have other cold nights, and little boys and girls who are very fragile they may be endangered by that cold, and we've got to protect our citizens from that," said Quinn.
The lobbies of 122 Department of Human Services offices are open to folks looking to escape the freezing cold.
"The unseasonable cold weather this week has lead to an increase in people who are having to find a warm place to go, so it's certainly very timely and important that these warming centers are available now when people need them the most," said Department of Human Services Spokesman Tom Green.
DHS warming centers are only open 8:30 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and for some, that's not enough.
"In our particular area, it's probably not needed during the day, and the time they're closing is the time they're needed I would say," said Susan Metcalf of Carbondale's Good Samaritan Ministries.
On cold winter days, the Good Samaritan House in Carbondale sees more folks coming in around the clock looking for a warm bed and a hot meal. But Good Samaritan administrators say they've not heard of their clients using the DHS warming centers.
"If they're here, they'll stay here, we would let them stay in all day too, so they wouldn't need that," said Metcalf.
DHS officials say no doubt about it; they'll help find folks a warm place to stay after 5 p.m. if they need it. But the warming centers are possibly better suited for folks just looking to keep down heating costs this winter.
"You know, maybe they want to leave the thermostat down at their home for a few hours to save some money on their heating bill, or if they just need to go somewhere to keep warm," said Green.

To find a DHS Warming Center click: http://www.keepwarm.illinois.gov/warmingcenter.cfm

Of if you or anyone you know is in need of a place to stay over night to escape the cold, contact Carbondale's Good Samaritan House at (618) 457-5794.