Old Man Winter unleashed a one-two punch of high winds and teeth-chattering temperatures in the New Orleans area on Monday, prompting city officials and homeless advocates to take precautions for those living on the streets.
The National Weather Service issued a freeze warning Monday afternoon, announcing that strong winds and a mass of cold air would arrive soon. The frosty weather is predicted to continue through Wednesday.
Residents in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish braced for temperatures predicted to drop to as low as 29 degrees Monday night, with a freeze likely to occur for one to three hours.
Temperatures could hit 25 degrees on the north shore, which was bracing for a hard freeze.
City Hall in New Orleans put in place a freeze plan for the homeless and urged all citizens to take precautions. Residents were advised to wrap exposed pipes and check on neighbors and the elderly to make sure they were prepared.
All four homeless shelters in the city were opened free of charge and allowed to expand their capacity to take on additional clients.
Terrance Parks, who works at the front desk at the Ozanam Inn on Camp Street, said the shelter was experiencing a significant uptick in clients and had 30 cots prepared to handle any overflow.
Last year, two homeless people died of hypothermia in New Orleans during cold snaps.
Despite that fact, some living on the streets said they might still try to brave the cold.
“It’s not possible that I’ll be cold,” said Kenny, a 21-year-old man from Chicago who has been sleeping under the Claiborne Avenue bridge and didn’t want to give his last name.
“I got, like, 20 blankets and I got thermals,” he said.
His friend, 23-year-old Victoria, seemed less than convinced.
“It’s freezing,” she said, her teeth chattering as she wrapped herself in a blanket.
The two said they likely would stick it out under the bridge but might get a hotel room if the weather became too much to handle.
In addition to a freeze warning, a wind advisory for Monday night predicted gusts up to 30 mph.
The bitter cold will continue Tuesday with a high temperature of 48 degrees and lows in the mid-30s.
The weather should improve Wednesday, with a high near 57.
The following homeless shelters will be open free of charge during the freeze:
The Salvation Army, 4530 S. Claiborne Ave., will accept men and women beginning at 4 p.m.
Ozanam Inn, 843 Camp St., will accept men only beginning at 4 p.m.
Covenant House, 611 N. Rampart St., will accept men and women between the ages of 16 and 21, their dependent children and any women with dependent minor children. Mothers with small children may come anytime.
New Orleans Mission, 1130 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., will accept men and women beginning at 4 p.m.