EMA and first responders work to keep Warming Center staffed during cold weather

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, December 28, 2022

During Christmas weekend, temperatures dropped below freezing for roughly 72 hours. In response to the low temperatures, the LaGrange- Troup Homeless Coalition opened up its warming center to more than 20 people in need of a place to beat the cold.

The LTHC warming center typically opens when temperatures get below freezing from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. However, due to the extended periods below freezing, the center opened up early throughout the week to keep guests out of the cold.

In response to the demand, volunteers from the American Red Cross, LaGrange Police Department, Troup County Fire Department, New Ventures and Troup County Sheriff’s Office worked to keep the warming center open for 24 hours of that three-day stretch.

Deputy Chief and EMA Director Zac Steele said the groups started assisting LTHC Friday morning.

“The wind chill temperatures last Friday were at a dangerous level for the possibility of frostbite if skin was exposed too long,” Steele said. “So, we banded together to get people out of the environment as quickly as possible for their safety and well-being.”

The primary responsibility of the staff working was to ensure oversight of the facility and assist people with getting food or other immediate needs inside the warning center, Steele said.

Steele said he, along with key members of county and city administration, discussed steps that could be taken ahead of the cold weather.

“My job as emergency management director is to coordinate all these resources and make sure that we have the availability for that. So, we aimed to keep that center up and rolling for the safety of all people that needed it,” Steele said. “So, while we did that, we maintained contingency plans in the background should we have a power outage in a neighborhood and needed space for more.”

Steele said all of the agencies working together showed professionalism among Troup County’s law enforcement agencies.

“They know how to come together and get something done that needs to be done,” Steele said.

New Ventures President and CEO Mike Wilson said they are thankful the whole community came together to assist.

“It’s been probably eight years since we’ve seen temperatures this low for that long,” Wilson said.

“Everybody was a catalyst for getting others to come out and help take care of marginalized citizens.”

Wilson said to have these organizations come out to help was great.

“LaGrange and Troup County is a very caring community. Everybody comes together and does what is needed whenever it happens,” Wilson said. “I can’t say enough about the community and the agencies that came together to make this happen.”

Steele was thankful for everyone playing a helping hand, especially considering it was Christmas weekend.

“It’s a testament to the leadership of all the organizations that they instill in their employees,” Steele said. “I think it was very impressive that on a holiday weekend we all came together and found the resources to make it work that way. The citizens of our community had a safe place to go and out of danger because we had people willing to step up and make this work.”