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Emergency shelters to stay open until Dec. 23

December 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The storm is mobilizing the California National Guard. Members of the guard will be sent to four armories in Los Angeles County where the homeless are seeking refuge. At the same time, homeless advocates want to know why the 24-hour shelters were not opened sooner.Caught between bad weather and a bureaucracy, the homeless who had hoped to find refuge in cold weather shelters during this storm didn't get it.

"I brace for the worst 'cause I know to expect the worst, but hope for the best," said Joanie Elaine Morgan. Morgan lives in a tent.

According to state guidelines, winter shelters can be opened during extreme cold and when a storm is expected to drop a half-inch of rain. This weekend as much as 5 inches fell in L.A. County.

"Just like if you fall in a cold ocean you can die of hypothermia after a few hours. You can die of hypothermia out in this," said Union Rescue Mission CEO Andy Bales.

Bales says his staff contacted Cal EMA, the California Emergency Management Agency, to activate the system, but nothing was done.

Sunday night scores of people came to one armory to get out of the storm but their stay only lasted overnight. Monday morning all 150 people were told to leave because the emergency order had not been authorized.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority says it also contacted Cal EMA and state emergency services last Thursday and Friday.

Monday, Cal EMA responded with a statement: "While there were and are always discussions regarding any type of potential situation ahead of time between each of Cal EMA's regional offices and with the operational areas (counties) and other entities, to the best of our knowledge Cal EMA was not requested to help extend hours of shelters until Monday, December 20."

Monday, as homeless advocates persisted, state agencies activated four armories to stay open around the clock until December 23.

"That should have happened last weekend and this should never, ever happen again," said Bales.

Cal EMA authorities Monday announced extended hours until Dec. 23 for the following shelters:

  • 10808 Culver Blvd., Culver City, 90230
  • 220 E. Colorado St., Glendale, 91205
  • 1300 Federal Ave., Los Angeles, 90025
  • 12860 Arroyo St., Sylmar, 91345
  • 600 South Park Ave., Pomona 91767

For more information, call 211 LA County, or go to http://www.211la.org.


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