Warming stations open in the area

Communities, agencies offer assistance during polar vortex

AP Lisa Laws is bundled up as she has a CTA bus to herself early Wednesday in Chicago. In the Mahoning Valley, several communities have established warming stations for people who may need emergency shelter because of the cold temperatures.

With Wednesday’s extremely cold temperatures and wind chills continuing into today, several communities have established warming stations for people who may need emergency shelter.

In Vienna, the township fire station has turned into a warming center Wednesday and today.

“The American Red Cross will provide cots and blankets. Trustees want residents to know that if their power goes out or if they have no place to go, they can stay at the fire station until the cold spell breaks,” Trustee Phil Pegg said.

Fire Chief Richard Brannon said while no one had stopped at the station as of late Wednesday, fire crews and police were out making sure no vehicles were off the roads or stuck with people inside.

“We are here if someone loses power at their home. We also are checking if vehicles are off the road and anyone needs help. We don’t want them sitting out in the cold,” he said.

The Niles Wellness Center in Waddell Park has opened to local residents as a warming center Wednesday and today for those without access to heat or electricity. The center is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today with access to water, coffee and vending machines.

The Niles Fire Department also opened its doors to Niles residents as an overnight warming station Wednesday evening.

The National Weather Service in Cleveland reported temperatures reached 10 degrees around 2 a.m. Wednesday with a low of minus 9. A wind chill warning continues through 4 p.m. today, with an expected high of 6 and a low of 2 and wind chill values as low as minus 22 degrees. Temperatures on Friday are expected to be warmer — in the lower 20s for highs and teens for lows. On Sunday, temperatures are expected to reach into the lower 50s.

Making sure area residents had food also was on the minds of the Trumbull County Office of Elderly Affairs.

Brandi Greenwood, manager of of senior nutritional services for the Trumbull County Office of Elderly Affairs, said the agency is expecting to have all nine locations, which include senior and community centers where it provides food, to reopen Friday so area residents can receive meals as they usually do.

She said the agency was fortunate to meet ahead of time with the Nutrition Group in Warren to make sure 235 homebound residents in the area who receive meals Monday to Friday at their homes had additional meals for Wednesday and today.

“We knew ahead we were expecting two days of really cold weather, so we worked with the caterer and made sure there was enough food ahead of time to get frozen meals to our clients for two days. The Nutrition Group came through for us and made this possible,” Greenwood said.

Other places where meals are provided Monday to Friday that are closed today include SCOPE senior centers, the Girard Multigenerational Center, West Farmington Senior Center and Hartford Senior Center.

Greenwood said only severe weather, such as dangerous wind chills or heavy snowfall, has forced the agency to cancel providing food at such locations.

The Trumbull County Office of Elderly Affairs would have needed a similar advance plan for a snowstorm that hit Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. However, the centers were already closed because of the holiday, Greenwood said.

“Whenever it is a bad snowstorm or very cold weather, we do not want to send the drivers out in this,” said Greenwood, who noted many of the volunteers are retired.

Helping animals out in the cold has been a concern of Pam Myers of Classic Kennels of Hartford LLC, who has had a few dogs placed at her site.

“Whatever the reason, we want to help keep the dogs and cats warm. Some people who rent a home may not be able to bring their dog inside or some dogs are left outside,” she said.

She said the Trumbull County Dog Pound, which is already filled with dogs, brought a few dogs this week to Classic Kennels.

“I can’t imagine any pet being left outside in this cold,” she said.

The majority of public and parochial schools were closed Wednesday and today with most expected to reopen on Friday when temperatures rise.

Youngstown State University and Kent State University and its branches canceled classes Wednesday and today.

The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library system remained open, but all programs and the bookmobile service were canceled.