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City coordinating volunteer plan for emergency warming shelters

By Brandon Shields

Managing Editor

The City of Jackson had to regroup quickly when snow and ice moved into West Tennessee on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 15.

Temperatures dropped. Big snowflakes fell and quickly blanketed the area, causing everyone to go inside away from the elements.

Those who had no home had to make a choice between taking their chances in the cold or finding a warming shelter to stay until the freeze broke.

First United Methodist Church and the Carl Perkins Civic Center were the main places for this for the majority of the storm, and all of that was coordinated by the City of Jackson.

The City is taking steps to be better prepared next time a similar situation happens.

“We’re having a training session on April 30 from 5-7 p.m. at All Saints Anglican Church for anyone who wants to volunteer to be a part of similar efforts when we have a similar event happen,” said Olivia Abernathy, who the City of Jackson is trusting to coordinate the efforts.

This effort is called the Emergency Warming Center Plan.

The idea is to get as many people signed up for volunteer purposes as possible, run background checks on them and then get them trained.

“We’ll have two training sessions per year, once in spring and another in the fall,” Abernathy said. “And then once we have everyone’s contact information, we’ll send all calls when we need help.”

There is also a set of action steps that could be taken by different churches since not every church has the facilities to handle a week of being a warming center like FUMC

Abernathy said times of snow and ice were the main kind of weather event this is planned for, but she said this could possibly be enacted in times of extended high temperatures in the summer.

“This isn’t meant to take the place of any of our non-profit organizations, but to help them in the busy times because organizations like Tennessee Homeless Solutions or Area Relief Ministries or RIFA don’t have the staffing to handle the demand they had that week in January,” Abernathy said. 

Anyone interested can sign up for the training by logging onto connect.jacksontn.gov. Scroll down to the button for the Emergency Center Warming Plan, and that button will take you to a sign-up form.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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