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Shelters Crowded on Third Night of Record Cold

November 6, 1991

ATLANTA (AP) _ Shelters in the South scrambled to accommodate homeless people caught unprepared by a cold snap in its third day today.

Atlanta had a record low of 26 degrees Tuesday.

″I have mothers here who do not have coats or sweaters for their children, and some mothers who don’t have coats for themselves,″ said Cheryl Proctor, director of Atlanta’s Moreland Avenue shelter, which was filled to its 130- person capacity Tuesday night.

At the Atlanta Union Mission, homeless people searched through piles of donated clothing for winter gear.

The nation’s eastern half was expected to get a brief respite from severe cold today, but another polar air blast was due Thursday.

Temperatures before dawn today were in the 20s and 30s in the South, the mid-Atlantic states, and the Midwest; and in the teens in the Great Lakes region.

International Falls, Minn., upheld its icy reputation with a record 3 below zero today, after tying its record of minus 1 Tuesday. Gusty northwesterly wind this morning combined with the temperature to make a wind chill factor of around 40 below zero.

The cold claimed at least one life Tuesday: An elderly Atlanta man died of hypothermia, authorities said. Cold, snow and ice since last week also have been blamed for 13 deaths in Minnesota, six in Illinois and five in Nebraska.

Record lows mostly in the teens and 20s were reported Tuesday in cities from Florida to New Jersey and from Minnesota to Texas.

Records Tuesday included Alamosa, Colo., 4 below zero; Del Rio, Texas, 31; Baton Rouge, La., 26; Birmingham, Ala., 21; New Orleans, 32; and Pensacola, Fla., 30. In Knoxville, Tenn., the temperature fell to 21, breaking the record of 24 that had stood since 1879.

Temperatures across Maryland dipped below freezing Tuesday. The mercury at Baltimore-Washington International Airport hit a record low of 26.

Baltimore had already implemented its winter homeless plan, which includes an extra 334 beds in shelters, said Joanne Selinske of the city Department of Homeless Services. The plan didn’t kick in until Nov. 15 last year.

″We made a conscious choice to start early this year,″ she said.

Detroit converted two recreation centers into nighttime ″warming centers″ for the homeless.

On Monday, the first night the centers opened, about 50 people stayed in both, said Cassandra Smith Gray, director of the city’s Neighborhood Services Department. On Tuesday, 60 people were at one of the centers by 10 p.m.

The city sent vans with flashing yellow lights and bullhorns to take street people to the shelters as overnight temperatures sank into the teens.

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