La Crosse shelters work overtime to help people escape cold - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

La Crosse shelters work overtime to help people escape cold

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- With health officials warning of dangerous, low temperatures Monday, La Crosse area shelters were working overtime to help people escape the cold.

The Winter Warming Center, at the First Baptist Church on Main Street, has increased its capacity from 15 to 30 people due to the tundra-like temperatures. Volunteer Mary Fitzpatrick said the local chapter of the American Red Cross dropped of 15, extra cots in the event that the center fills up.

The center, which usually opens around 9:30 p.m. each night, was also opening 90 minutes early Monday evening.

The south hall of the La Crosse Center has also been turned into a warming shelter to supplement the facility at the church.

"We're here to serve people who, in this extreme weather time, their ordinary housing situations might not be sustainable," said Ellen Rasmussen, Chair of the La Crosse Area Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), which is staffing the shelter in the south hall.

Rasmussen added the La Crosse Center warming shelter caters to those not being served by the warming center on Main Street.

"If you have a pet, of if you're a family and you want to stay together," she said, "those aren't needs the warming center can fulfill at this time."

Fitzpatrick said the warming center's permit restricts it to only admitting men and women.

The La Crosse Center south hall is scheduled to remain open through 12 p.m. Wednesday, Rasmussen said. She said 11 people stopped in Sunday night, after doors opened at 5 p.m.
Nine of those people spent the night.

The warming center on Main Street reported 10 people stayed there Sunday night.

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