BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The bitter cold Greene County is experiencing has been a talking point for some residents and an inconvenience for others.
But for those truly in need -- those who may struggle even on an average winter day -- the below-zero temperatures can be deadly.
That's why a number of local outreach ministries are working hard to meet a surge in local demand for a warm place to stay overnight, or simply a way to warm their homes.
Approximately a dozen individuals took refuge at the Opportunity House on Irish Street on Monday night, which represents a spike in numbers, according to Executive Director Danny Ricker.
"We've not experienced it being this cold in a while," Ricker said in an interview on Monday. "I've had several calls today, and I've had three more to come in and one more is supposed to come in."
He said that the homeless shelter has a 25-person capacity.
Bill Brown, Greene County Emergency Management Director, announced Monday that an emergency shelter would be established late Monday afternoon at Hal Henard Elementary School, because of the extreme cold.
The shelter opened at 5 p.m. Monday. An Emergency Management volunteer at the shelter said at 7 a.m. today that three people stayed there overnight.
FIREWOOD MINISTRY BUSY
The Greene County Firewood Ministry has been working hard to assist those who heat their homes with wood who are elderly, disabled, or otherwise unable to provide a heating source for their family.
"Everybody starts panicking when it calls for cold weather," Firewood Ministry President Tony Williams said Monday. "We delivered 65 loads last week, from Monday to Saturday. Normally, it's about 30."
And despite the freezing conditions, the ministry was out delivering still more loads on Monday.
Williams said the ministry's greatest needs include volunteers to deliver loads and split wood.
To help with the ministry, contact David Andrew at 552-3501, Tony Williams at 823-1932 or Andy Hillyer at 329-2594.
The firewood ministry has enough wood for approximately 40 to 50 more loads and keeps a list of those who have wood available for pickup, he said.
Last year, the ministry delivered nearly 1,000 loads during the winter.
"We've already delivered well over 500 loads this [winter], and winter's just got a good start," Williams said.
The firewood ministry works with Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries to determine eligibility to receive the firewood.
An individual household may receive two initial loads of firewood, with the ministry providing more at their discretion to those in serious need, such as the sick or elderly, according to Williams.
GGCCM CLOSED MONDAY, TODAY
The Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries Food Bank and Coal Fund outreach was closed on Monday because of the condition of side roads in the county, and is closed again today because of the windchill, according to Executive Director Carmen Ricker.
Ricker said that the GGCCM often closes when the local school systems close, as was the case Monday and today, in order to ensure the safety of volunteer workers and the safety of those who may try to make their way to the ministry to ask for aid.
Although Ricker said she had not noted any recent spike in requests, the GGCCM center on Cutler Street will be available to help those in need with heating and food when the center reopens tomorrow.
She added that it is also available to help in case of an emergency.
Heating and food are the two greatest needs cited by John Waddle, of the Mosheim Outreach.
Although the outreach is not active right now, he said he is aware of people who are receiving help with getting extra clothing as well.