Warming centers and shelters open for coming cold weather

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COLUMBIA - Warming centers and shelters are available now for Columbia residents. The Department of Public Health and Human Services prepared eight warming centers and official shelters for the coming cold weather.

“It’s availability,” said Andrea Waner, public information officer for the Department of Public Health and Human Services. “It promotes the overall health of individuals. And we want to provide opportunities for you to be able to come in and take a break from whatever you’re experiencing outside. And so just having those resources available for people in the community regardless of socioeconomic status or where you stand. “

According to the city’s website, the eight warming centers include: ARC (Activity and Recreation Center), Armory Sports and Community Center, Boone County Government Center, Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health & Human Services, Columbia Public Library, Salvation Army, Salvation Army Harbor House, and St. Francis House.

“We have a lot of foot traffic across this area whether with Gerb’s being a supermarket and residential areas around. There’s a lot of foot travel when the cold winds comes, snow comes, people need a break from that.” Brian Higginbotham, supervisor of operations for ARC, said.

The warming centers open during the buildings’ normal business hours and the public can have access to the public areas such as lobby, restroom and water fountain.

“It’s basically in our free area that’s in front of our control desk to our lobby where we allow people to come in and warm up whenever the colder months are coming upon us.” Higginbotham said.

Waner said the shelters are more geared toward overnight and sometimes for some specific populations.

“We don’ t allow any sleep and outside food, that’s really our stipulation as far as coming in to warm-up.” Higginbotham said.

Waner said they would probably address those needs as they arise. But for now the services and the facilities that we have in place seem to be working well.

All the warming centers are going to be closed during Thanksgiving except for Salvation Army Harbor House. St. Francis House can’t confirm their time schedules till Nov 23.