Shelters prepare to house more people during cold, wet weather

Local News

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The ArkLaTex is seeing some relief from the rain this week, but cold conditions and saturated ground remain.

“I had to get out of the weather,” said Justin Tackett.

Tackett is seeking shelter at the Salvation Army. He said he’s been outside weathering the elements for days.

“I mean, it’s nasty. It’s very nasty out there,” said Tackett. “It’s no place for nobody.”

“As the temperature drops and the weather, the ground is saturated with water – nobody should be outside during times like this,” said Salvation Army Lt. Jamaal Ellis.

The Salvation Army’s Center of hope offers help from homelessness. Right now, the women and children’s side of the facility is full. Only a handful of beds are available on the men’s side.

“But, we expect that to fill up tonight,” said Ellis. “And we have cots ready to accommodate the overflow.”

On an average night, the facility sleeps 111 people. Ellis said they try not to turn anyone away.

“If we can help it, we don’t,” said Ellis. “Even if we’re out of cots, even if we’re out of floor space. If we’ve got a space next to a desk or in the office, we do that before we put someone back out in the elements.”

The Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission also offers a refuge from the weather.

“When we get inclement weather, we do 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people that get caught outside,” said Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission Executive Director Larry Otwell. “We don’t want anybody dying of hypothermia or anything like that.”

On average, the mission houses more than 125 men, women and children daily.

“Everywhere you walk around here, we got ‘hope’ everywhere and that’s the big thing is giving a person hope again,” said Otwell.

And on wet wintry nights, they prepare for more people to come in from the cold.

“We have cots on standby with mattresses,” said Otwell. “And blankets and pillows.”

These places are giving dozens of people like Tackett a warm meal and warm place to stay.

“It’s a blessing,” said Tackett.

Both groups said they are also prepared to serve extra meals to accommodate the additional folks seeking shelter.

They said they are always in need of donations to continue serving the community. You can find a list of needs for the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission here.

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