Finding warmth off the streets

By Michelle Costanza

January 7, 2014 Updated Jan 7, 2014 at 6:26 AM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Sub-zero temperatures and wind chills close to 30 below are finding people searching for a warm place to stay.

Less than 15 minutes in the cold can leave people with frostbite, and in some cases even hypothermia. The latest cold snap has become dangerous for anyone outside with uncovered and exposed skin.

Homeless shelters across the country were pushed to capacity as people sought shelter and safety from the bitter wind. Locally, the Salvation Army kept their doors open at the soup kitchen on Gorgeous Washington Street, providing blankets, warm drinks and food to those who needed it.

Binghamton's YWCA also felt the influx of people Monday night.

"On a night like this we have more women staying here. We've added extrs beds and couches in our lounges if need be," said Carole Coppens, executive director of the YWCA.

Normally running at 80 percent occupancy, Coppens said they were over capacity when the bitter cold swept in.

"We will turn no one away. When it's really, really cold like this, you can't survive if you're not prepared for it. And we don't want to see anyone succumb because they didn't have a place to stay," said Coppens.

In cold snaps like Monday's -- and what's expected Tuesday -- people were urging their neighbors to remember not just their own needs. Pets, livestock and other animals need warm shelter, fresh food and unfrozen water.

While some will be digging themselves out from snow, others will need the next few days just to thaw themselves out.

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