PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Most nights, people must sign up for a Salvation Army program to seek refuge in their shelter on Nathan Hale Avenue in Pascagoula. But Monday night was a "freeze night," meaning the shelter is open to anyone who needs a warm refuge from the cold weather.
Shelter Director Kathleen Schubert said the facility is prepared to take in a large number of people as this frigid week continues.
"We basically open our shelter to the community whenever the weather is inclement, freezing or below," Schubert said.
"If it wasn't for this place, I' don't know where I'd be right now," said Jay Gappa, who's staying at the shelter.
"Salvation Army gave me a place to stay on the cold nights and stuff and helped me out," said Doreen Colman, who is also staying there.
Frigid temperatures brought Roger Perry to the shelter. A plumber down on his luck, Perry feared this week's wintry forecast.
"I mean it's cold out there, you know," Perry said. "You can't survive in the cold if you don't have any money to even get a hotel room or anything like that. You know, you can die out there."
Colman recently found herself in a similar conundrum.
"There's so many people like me that are stuck outside and who don't have family or anyone to help them out, and a place like this is great it really helps me out," Colman said.
Shelter officials say they hope more and more of the homeless will knock on their doors as the temperatures continue to drop.
"We estimate the rest of the week to be inclement weather as well, down around 30 degrees," Schubert said. "So we'll be opening up the shelter. They come in, we have coffee, they have a warm bed. They come in out of the freezing temperatures... Just being out in it all day is tremendous. Just imagine sleeping in it."
"I've been here a couple of nights and there have been more people every night coming in probably," said Schubert.
Jackson County emergency officials are keeping a close eye on the weather. Civil Defense Director Donald Langham said the county may open a shelter of their own if the need arises.
Several other shelters are also open across south Mississippi:
Good Deeds Center
15101 Madison St.
Open at 4:30pm
Gulf Coast Rescue Mission
2750 Mission Lane
Lutheran Episcopal Services (formerly Lagniappe Church)
647 Demontiluzin Ave.
Bay St. Louis
Open at 4:30pm until 9am
Rides to shelter: (228) 255-9191
3217 Nathan Hale Ave.
2272 Hwy 53