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Homeless Shelters Keeping Doors Open As Cold Weather Lingers

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(Source: CBS4) Two people arrive at the Miami Rescue Mission for a warm place to stay during the South Florida cold snap on Jan. 3, 2012.

(Source: CBS4) Two people arrive at the Miami Rescue Mission for a warm place to stay during the South Florida cold snap on Jan. 3, 2012.

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – As near freezing temperatures  descend on South Florida, shelters in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties have opened their doors to welcome in people who need a warm place to stay, local farmers are getting prepared to save their crops from the big chill, and visitors in town for the Orange Bowl ended up huddled around heaters.

“It’s not warm weather.  West Virginia  weather followed us,” said Jeremy Haddix. “It’s a lot better than being at home.”

Outdoor cafes wasted no time getting their heaters ready.

“We have the heaters up and we have the wood-burning oven inside which is excellent for the people when they come in to eat the pizza,” said restaurant manager Luis Perez.

Nobody likes to be cold when their eating and local farmers don’t like the cold because of the potential damage it could cause to their crops.

At Alger Farms in Homestead, the sprinklers are already on in an effort to protect the sweet corn crop.

“By adding water to the soil, you’re going to slow down radiational cooling where you lose your heat from the soil, you make that little micro-environment down there that keeps it just a little above freezing and that’s what your looking for,” explained Jonn Alger of Alger Farms.

The most vulnerable in South Florida are the homeless who face a second night of shivering on the sidewalks.

The Salvation Army of Broward County located at 1445 West Broward Blvd. is just one of the many area shelters housing visitors during this blast of cold winter air. Other shelters include Pompano Beach City Hall located at 100 W. Atlantic Blvd. and the Broward Outreach Center located at 2056 Scott Street.

Normally, the Broward facility houses roughly 160 people, but that number was expected to rise as the mercury falls.

“We don’t want people to get hypothermia or get sick,’’ said Salvation Army spokesperson Teri Lynn to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald. “No one will be turned away.”

The Miami Rescue Mission in downtown Miami also provides hot meals and a warm place to stay for Miami’s homeless community which is good news for Brienna Reynolds who suffers from chronic asthma and the cold weather only makes it worse.

“I can barely breathe right now. That’s why I’m trying to get in here now early so I can breathe again and so I don’t end up in the hospital,” said Reynolds.

Some shelters, such as the Miami Rescue Mission, put overflow plans in place. Shelter managers were worried that many people would get caught off guard because the temperature plunged so quickly overnight.

“This is one of the things that people in the homeless situation should be able to appreciate,” said Thomas Crown who was thankful for the warm place to sleep.

The Miami Rescue Mission is located at 2020 NW 1st Avenue.

“On our Miami Campus, we are expecting an extra 75-80 homeless and needy men as well as an additional 30 women,” said Miami Center Programs Director Antonio Villasuso. “I encourage people to help donate blankets and preparing items.”

Broward Outreach Centers Director, MaryAnn Diamond, stated, “It is important for the community to come together to help donate items we associate with cold weather such as blankets, jackets, coats and socks are all items we go through quickly as we take on the colder months.”

In all, the Miami Rescue Mission/Broward Outreach Centers are expecting well over 100 people to seek shelter during the cold weather pattern. If you’d like to donate any blankets, jackets or other winter apparel, call (305) 572-2002 or (800) 817-HOPE.

These shelters will be open again Tuesday night into Wednesday as temperatures are expected to be even colder on Wednesday.If the weather forecast changes to predict warmer or colder conditions, the shelter nights may be canceled or extended.

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