Warming center sees uptick in people taking shelter from freezing temperatures

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The frigid cold temperatures have driven many homeless Houstonians to seek shelter at warming centers. (KTRK)

A warming center set up by the Houston Red Cross and the Precinct One Constable's Office will remain open for a third night, until evening temperatures finally move above freezing.

The gymnasium of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church was a temporary home for 150 people last night. Today, the count was up to 180.

Most of them were homeless, but not all. They included an 80-year-old man and his wife whose furnace went out yesterday.

"It started blowing cold air, and I couldn't get anybody over to fix it," the man said.

The couple sat on cots with Red Cross blankets wrapped around them, trying to get a reprieve from the chill.

A lot of people who live on the street apparently took the offer to come inside.

"I don't think it was just our welcoming attitude," said Erica Davis, with Constable Alan Rosen's office. "It was the weather."

In short, people listened and that's what Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says made this ice storm, that paralyzed the region Tuesday, memorable for more than misery and danger.

"City, county and first responders mobilized," he said. "Everyone doing what they needed to do, but most importantly, people listened. Anytime you start talking about ice in a place like Houston and Harris County, that scares people. We don't necessarily know how to react to it, but the good news is that people stayed home."

Some businesses remained closed until noon today.

In Rice Village, an employee of a sportswear store said he passed a lot of debris on his way to work late this morning.

"Fenders, bumpers, and I even saw an overturned car on one road," he said. "That's why I didn't get out Tuesday."

In terms of how he viewed the response of local governments to the freeze emergency, "I can't fault them for anything," he said.

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