Overnight lows fill Valley shelters

INIDO, Cali. - Low temperatures in the Coachella Valley this week are especially brutal for those who don't have a roof over their heads.  The Coachella Valley Rescue Mission says it's never been busier. With Valley temps dipping in the 30s at night, all of their beds are full. 

"We are really grateful that this place let us in," said Jessica Dominguez Martinez.

Dominguez Martinez and her son are one of many who call the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission home. 

"We are thanking GOD every night to be here," said  Dominguez Martinez.

"The economy is still rough out there.  People are still getting their hours reduced and we are fighting the cold weather, so we have lots of people in here now in our intake program wanting to get into the shelter, and we have 250 beds total," said Executive Director Darla Burkett.

Every bed, and every floor space is being used.

"We have a 75 bed shelter and just to give you a an idea, we had 91 people in that overflow shelter last night," said Burkett.

"I'm just glad I'm here and not out in the cold," said Tim Dahl.

The shelter is also in need of winter clothing, mittens, gloves and hats.  That's why Johnathan's Cleaners in La Quinta is in it's 6th year hosting a coat drive. 

"We got a pretty good response from the community, we are just hoping to keep it going because there are a lot of people out there who need help," said owner John Sohn. 

The Coachella Valley Rescue Mission is mainly just for overnight, during day Riverside County has several places you can go. 

When the temps dip below 40 degrees during the day, senior and community centers turn into warming centers.

"It gets them out of the cold and off the street and come on in and warm up, if they want they can have a snack or something to drink," said Indio Senior Center director Nancy Vance.

"We have an inviting library with a fireplace that is real warm and comfortable," said senior Caroline Scheid.

The warming centers are only activated when temps get down to 40 degrees during the day, but these community centers, and seniors center won't turn you away if it's a little warmer than that out. 

To find a warming center near you can go click here or call 211.

Officials say the agencies will provide two levels of assistance and support for those in need during the winter months.

A Cold Advisory will be issued by the Department of Public Health when the temperature drops to 40° or less for at least three hours.  

Recommendations for avoiding cold weather related emergencies:

  • Drink warm fluids
  • Keep your home warm-turn on your heater
  • Wear several thin layers of clothing
  •  Move family pets indoors out of the elements
  •  Know the location of the nearest Warm Center, should your home heating system fail

A Cold Warning will be issued by the Department of Public Health when the forecast anticipates temperatures to remain under 40° or less for three to five consecutive days.  When Cold Warnings are issued, Warm Centers will be opened to the public, especially for those individuals more susceptible to the cold such as the elderly.  Warm Centers were opened on December, 1st.

Warm Centers are located throughout Riverside County and also provide some snacks and activities as well as resource and transportation information, according to officials.  Seniors, low-income individuals and families are encouraged to go to a Warm Center.

Cold Advisories and Cold Warnings will be issued through the media and faith-based organizations.

A Hotline is also available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. for information on how to keep your home warm and safe, Warm Center locations and hours and general information.

Energy Crisis Hotline   1-888-636-8676 , 951 955-5126 or  call 2-1-1 (24-hours a day) for  general information.

You can also visit  http://www.capriverside.org

Find Warm Center locations in the Coachella Valley

The Community Action Partnership of Riverside County, Riverside County Department of Public Health, Riverside County Fire Department, Community Connect 211 and American Red Cross have all joined together to launch the Warm Center initiative locally.

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