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Emergency Cold Weather Shelter opens in Rockford

Winter storm preparedness guide
National Weather Service Chicago, IL
Winter storm preparedness guide

A significant winter storm is expected to impact much of the Midwest later this week.

The City of Rockford, the Northern Illinois Homeless Coalition and Second Congregational UCC/First Presbyterian Church are working together to open an Emergency Cold Weather Shelter at Second First Church in downtown Rockford.

Severe winter storm timeline
National Weather Service Chicago,IL
Severe winter storm timeline

The U.S. National Weather service is forecasting a severe winter storm set to begin this Thursday and last through Sunday. Angie Walker with the city of Rockford says that in response to the inclement weather conditions, a warming center will open at Second First Church in downtown Rockford for those in need.

“The schedule right now is that it will open [Tuesday] night. They'll be opening around 8 p.m. for people to check in. And it will stay open until six in the morning.”

The warming center will remain open through Dec. 26 based on the forecast. Second First Church at 318 N. Church Street is located in downtown Rockford. Walker adds that the church has a large gym that they typically open up as a warming center in the colder stretches in January.

“They have bathrooms, they have showers, they have washing facilities, kitchen, so it's really well put together to do something like this,” said Walker. “It kind of has all the necessities that people would need.”

Due to limited capacity, officials are asking those staying at Rockford Rescue Mission to stay put, and will otherwise be turned away.

“This shelter is really for those folks that are outside that are unsheltered, and just need a place to get to overnight so that they don't freeze,” said Walker. ”It's really for emergencies. If you can stay at the mission or elsewhere. We ask that people please do that.”

Wind chill is projected to drop to near 30 degrees below zero by Friday morning. According to the U.S. National Weather service, dangerous cold is expected to persist past Friday and through the holiday weekend.

Juanpablo covers environmental, substandard housing and police-community relations. He’s been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez-Franco produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois. He is a graduate of Knox College.