COVID-19 poses challenges for rural communities to help homeless in cold weather months

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LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo- The frigid weather and Covid-19 make the job of keeping the homeless warm in a rural Missouri county even tougher

Brett Siefert is the administrator of the Lincoln County Health Department. He said, “Life safety, we want people to be out of the cold.”

In Troy, Missouri and Lincoln County when the cold winds blow people who need a warm place to stay have traveled down the road to St. Charles County for years where officials say they spent the night in church shelters run by volunteers.

Jim Sharp is the director of the Lincoln County Emergency Management. Sharp said, “…which made transportation to and from problematic especially if the roads are bad.”

In 2019 the Lincoln County Health department turned the building into a shelter on frigid nights. Siefert said, “We have a homeless population and when the temperature drops below a certain threshold we try to make sure we have a place to go.”

COVID-19 has fouled things up. Volunteers don’t want to be exposed to potential virus carriers plus the health department is in the middle of vaccine preps. Siefert added, “We’re not prepared to operate both at the same time.”

The Emergency Weather Response Group, a non-profit organization, is putting people in local motels for the evening. There’s no reason anyone in the area should be harmed by frigid weather.

Sharp said, “I cannot put it more simply than that, I think they save people’s lives.”

Warming Shelter Hotline 636-395-0492

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