Even two Joliet warming shelters close due to cold weather
BY BOB OKON firstname.lastname@example.org January 6, 2014 1:00PM
Updated: February 8, 2014 6:19AM
How cold is it? It’s so cold that two Joliet warming shelters were shut down because of the frigid cold snap that hit town.
Both Joliet Public Library branches were closed Sunday and Monday because of the wintry weather.
That surprised Joliet Fire Chief Joseph Formhals.
“That’s our downtown spot,” Formhals said of the main library.
The library also has a location on Black Road. Both are designated warming shelters, but both were closed Monday as temperatures reached 15 degrees below zero, with wind chills at 40 below.
The library sent out news alerts Sunday to local media reporting the library would be closed. But Formhals said he had not been informed.
“I wish the library would have advised everyone that they were closed for the day,” Formhals said. “I know they have a large area up there on the second floor where a lot of people hang out.”
Library officials could not be reached immediately for comment. A recording on the library phone advises, “Due to weather conditions we are closed today.”
It was not clear whether the library closing had much impact on people seeking shelter. Homeless people and others seeking shelter from the cold often go to the police station hoping to find help or a place to stay.
Police Chief Brian Benton said late Monday morning that the station had not seen an unusual number of people seeking shelter. He attributed that to people having made plans for the much-publicized freeze.
“I imagine most people are hunkered down, at least those that need shelter,” Benton said.
Formhals noted that people downtown in need of shelter could find it at MorningStar Mission and the Daybreak Shelter. Both are on the near east side, although several blocks from the library. MorningStar Mission is at 350 E. Washington St. and Daybreak Shelter is at 611 E. Cass St.
Many people went to MorningStar Mission’s drop-in center during the morning, said Sandi Perzee, business manager at the mission. The numbers ranged from 12 to 30 during the morning, she said.
West siders have the Louis Joliet Mall as an alternative to the library as a designated warming shelter.