By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After five days without power, one of the city’s largest homeless shelters is finally back on the grid — just in time for the next snowstorm.
But even while they were operating on emergency power for five days (see previous stories), the cold, dark conditions didn’t stop people from seeking refuge from the frigid temperatures.
Today, shortly before full power was restored, about three dozen people sat in the cafeteria of the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission at 13th and Vine Streets. They were dressed in layers — hats, coats, and gloves — crouching near the emergency lighting powered by a generator.
“We can see our breath in here,” said manager Chris Rhodes. “The fact that you can come in here and sleep… some people have no place to go.”
Rhodes says they closed for one night but requests mounted, so they reopened, providing beds for about 50 people per night. But even that was a mere quarter of their full capacity.
“Fifty-two code blues (cold-weather emergencies this season) so far and counting,” noted Leticia Egas-Hinton of the city’s Emergency Housing Operations. She says the mission’s decreased capacity has caused some strain on a system that houses 2,900 people each night.
“Because the weather has been brutal, we have many more people from the street that are coming in,” she tells KYW Newsradio.
For Tara, being at the mission in the cold was better than being on the street.
“Some things you have to sustain,” she said.