Helping the homeless survive the cold

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The face of the city is cold. "Very tough. I go 20 miles an hour and the tire blows out," said one downtown motorists to the tow driver.

But there are warm hearts trying to help out.

Like Metro Police officers, checking alleys and a known homeless campus to try to convince people to go into shelters for the next couple nights.

Conditions are expected to become so bad that the city is shutting down non-essential parts of government all day Tuesday - telling those staff they can stay home.

At Horizon House on East Washington Street, the Executive Director said, "It's about keeping people safe and alive."

Horizon can hold up to 80 people, and was activated by Marion County Homeland Security under emergency policies.

The facility put out a call for donors to drop off needed items. One person was doing just that Monday night. "I found blankets at Big Lots. They were pretty cheap, so I grabbed a whole bunch of those...grabbed some socks, hats. I've been really concerned."

Homeland Security Chief Gary Coons said the Marion County Sheriff has been a tremendous partner in this as well, "They're offering transportation."

If someone loses heat or needs to reach a warming station or shelter in the next two days, they can call the police non-emergency number at 327-3811.

Sheriff's Corporal John Dorsey and his partner are checking out places they often find the homeless.

Cpl. Dorsey asked one man in a tent in a downtown alley if he is "basically choosing to stay out here?"  "Yeah," came the answer.  Dorsey asked again, "Are you sure?"  "Yeah," said the man in the tent.

He reminded the man temperatures could reach 17 below zero. But the man didn't want to go into a shelter. He said he would be warm in his tent, heated by a cook stove.

Dorsey said he will probably check on the man during the night.