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Needy flock to York County shelters as bitter cold sweeps in

'Extreme cold' causes 3 Rock Hill water main breaks

Rock Hill crews were repairing older water mains that were broken by "extreme cold" Tuesday morning in three different sites in the city, city officials said. With cold weather expected overnight for several more days, city officials are preparing
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Rock Hill crews were repairing older water mains that were broken by "extreme cold" Tuesday morning in three different sites in the city, city officials said. With cold weather expected overnight for several more days, city officials are preparing

Coffee is on the list as one of the most needed items at Renew Our Community, or ROC, a crisis assistance center in Rock Hill.

As temperatures dropped below freezing in York County Monday and Tuesday, local homeless shelters faced higher demand, plus a need for warm clothes, coffee supplies and volunteers, said Iris Smalls-Hubbard, director of Renew Our Community.

“We’ve seen a lot more people over the last week than we normally have,” Smalls-Hubbard said.

Temperatures dropped close to 10 degrees Monday morning in Rock Hill. Temperatures for several nights this week are expected to fall into the mid teens or lower, according to the National Weather Service.

ROC typically serves, on average, 125 people a day. During the last week, that number went up to 153 people a day, Smalls-Hubbard said. Typically, ROC is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but during the cold may open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The center connects people to agencies for a variety of services, raises funds to help people pay their utility bills, and provides kerosene vouchers to keep the heat on during the cold months, Smalls-Hubbard said. Donations and volunteers support those efforts.

Smalls-Hubbard said, with the frigid temperatures, ROC needs bottled water, nonperishable snack items and coffee supplies such as filters, coffee and creamers. They also need warm clothes, such as warm underwear, gloves, hats, socks, scarves and coats.

During the cold, ROC volunteers transport people, after closing hours, to shelters such as the Men’s Warming Center at Bethel United Methodist Church in Rock Hill. Then the volunteers bring them back to ROC in the morning, Smalls-Hubbard said.

She said ROC serves people of ages from 50s to 70s.

“With that population, we don’t want them outside for any length of time,” Smalls-Hubbard said.

“It is a community issue. It’s not just the ROC’s issue,” Smalls-Hubbard said. “These are our neighbors and these are our friends.”

It is a community issue; it’s not just the ROC’s issue. These are our neighbors and these are our friends.

Iris Smalls-Hubbard, director of Renew Our Community

At the Haven Men’s Shelter in Rock Hill, demand is always high, said Executive Director Toni Elliot.

“We’re pretty much always full,” she said.

The shelter has 12 beds and works to transition men into their own homes and help them find work, Elliot said. She said they recently had four men move into their own apartments.

“We do more than just give them a place to stay,” Elliot said.

The shelter, Elliot said, also provides rides for clients who need transportation to a warm site during the day.

She said shelter managers are alert during inclement weather and may keep the doors open a little longer than normal. The Haven Men’s Shelter is usually open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Bethel is seeing their highest demand in years, and has had to open three locations for beds this season, two of which are overflow spots, said Richard Murr, chair of the Men’s Warming Center committee. Murr said the center is serving more than 50 men a night.

“That’s much higher than we have seen any other year,” he said.

The biggest way people can help Bethel is to donate as it costs $4,500 a week to run the three locations, Murr said. The warming center provides a meal and a bed to sleep in to each man.

Smalls-Hubbard said the community has done a good job of supporting services like ROC and the shelters.

“York County recognizes we have an issue,” she said. “We thank the community for what they have done already.”

Cold has broad impact

The cold weather also caused water main breaks in Rock Hill Tuesday.

Utility crews were repairing three broken water pipes that broke because of the “extreme cold” overnight, city officials said.

With the continued cold all week, and the existence of many older pipes in the water system, city officials are preparing for more broken pipes. Quinn said homeowners and business owners have to make sure they take precautions to protect exposed pipes on private property.

For a list of safety precautions, visit Rock Hill’s city Web site. Anyone with an outage can call 803-329-5500.

Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082

Want to help?

▪ Donations to Renew Our Community can be made online at renewoc.org or on the center’s Facebook page. Checks can also be dropped off to ROC at 119 East White Street in Rock Hill.

▪ Donations to the Haven Men’s Shelter in Rock Hill can be made online at www.thehavenrh.org.

▪ Donations can be dropped off at Bethel United Methodist 6-7:30 p.m. any day. Donors are asked to call ahead at 803-327-4481. Visit the Men’s Warming Center at bethelumcrockhill.org/mens-shelter.aspx.

▪ Other local shelters and agencies include Pilgrims’ Inn in Rock Hill and Family Promise of York County.

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