Storm rolls in, cots roll out at East Texas shelters - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Storm rolls in, cots roll out at East Texas shelters

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Beds are filling up across East Texas homeless shelters as the winter weather comes around. As the storm rolls in, the cots are rolled out.

Christmas decorations bring cheer, but the holidays also bring more people. One room is already full at Tyler's Salvation Army.

"If there are any empty beds in here, then we'll fill those beds first before the cold weather," Chantel Millin, Corporate Relations Coordinator with The Salvation Army of Tyler said.

Beds have been claimed, but that's just the beginning, says Millin.

"Of course, if we have to we can fill up our hallways for people to sleep in cold weather," she said.

While East Texans deal with cold temperatures, the staff here braces for a more than fifty percent increase in occupants tonight.

"There's plenty of spaces. We'll make space; if we have to use an office, we will make space for people to sleep," she said.

In Longview at The Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, people are already lining up inside and they say they won't be turning anyone away. During the last storm ten days ago, they got a glimpse of what this holiday season would bring and they say they are prepared.

"Means the difference between freezing, maybe dying, or a warm place to stay," Timothy Bond said. He has spent the last few nights in the woods, and says he's grateful for the gift of a warm bed and people like Rusty Fennell who make it possible.

"We're prepared, we're ready, we've known that this weather has been coming for quite some time. Of course we can always use donations from the community," Fennell said.

No matter how many show up tonight, both have the same message: it's the holiday season and nobody will be left out in the cold.

Both The Salvation Army and Highway 80 Rescue Mission tell us they have enough cots and can even sleep people on mats on the floor if necessary. They are prepared for disasters and tell us a little ice won't shut them down, but they do ask for donations of food, clothing, and blankets as this storm sweeps through East Texas.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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