Homeless Shelters Prepare For Extra Residents

BRISTOL, Tenn. - As temperatures plunged Wednesday night, many of our local homeless shelters opened their doors to extra residents.

Even after a sunny spring day, sleeping outside in a cold snap wasn't for Michael Cook.

"Then all the sudden, what's gonna happen? Even if you don't got blankets, whatever, that's not good," Cook told News 5.

That's why he's bunking at the Haven of Rest Rescue Mission. It's a shelter that's encouraging others to do the same.

"We definitely want to encourage them to get out of the cold. You know, it's better to be in and be safe than try to fight through the weather," said Joshua Wiley, a manager at the Haven of Rest.

We found out, both the Haven of Rest and the Salvation Army in Bristol, Tennessee opened their doors to anyone needing to keep warm as the temperatures turned frigid.

"Whenever it drops below freezing, we have an open door policy. We'll take in as many people as they can fit in our max capacity, which is 48," said Captain Joseph Irvin, Corps Officer at the Salvation Army in Bristol.

The Haven of Rest can take up to 50 people.

"We've got our rollaways, and our air mattresses, and our cots ready. We get our extra blankets out, and [we] make sure that we have easy access to them," said Wiley.

They also have sleeping bags on standby for those who don't want to stay overnight.

"[This] springtime, we've had some warm nights. We had them all put away. We spent the day pulling those back out and making them readily available to people," Wiley said.

It's this open-door, open-arms policy helping those like Cook make it through during tough times.

"As long as they think about having [God] in their heart and in their mind, and we have a place like this, they got somewhere to come to ma'am," said Cook.

We asked how a spring cold snap compares to a winter one and found out, for many people on the street, they're more unexpected. That means these shelters are expecting more people to come in the middle of the night as they realize it's too cold to stay outside.

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