TxDOT crews salted portions of I-35 yesterday to help drivers get home safely after a wintry mix swept through central Texas. For a few Temple residents, “getting home” is not a reality. Finding shelter is.

“The warming centers open their doors and allow a person to get out of the cold overnight,” fire department spokesman Thomas Pechal said.

From the hours of 5 p.m to 9 a.m., Transformation Station, located at 503 East Central Avenue, will house any man needing shelter. Women and children should contact the Temple Police Department at 209 East Avenue A for help.

On Wednesday, “We had one man use the warming center at Transformation Station, and we had two women who received overnight lodging vouchers,” Pechal said.

A non-profit group known as the Temple Emergency Warming Center Coalition initiated the shelter program a few years ago. The combination of individuals and facilities came together to provide citizens in need with the appropriate tools to combat the elements.

“We feed them if they’re hungry,” Transformation Station director Kyle Brearey said. “Last night we had pork shoulder, rice, mixed vegetables, bread, the essentials. And the night before, we had breakfast for dinner.” On top of that, “We give them a place to sleep with a warm blanket,” he said.

Community members donated care packages for the men filled with deodorant, soap, shampoo, razors, shaving cream, and a pair of socks. Visitors can put those gifts to use with a hot shower at the Transformation Station, too.

“We try to take care of them like the Word of God says,” Brearey said. Risks of hypothermia have increased due to weather conditions for all residents. Pechal said potential exists for someone who is outdoors and poorly prepared to fall victim of the cold.

Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature drops below 95 F. The body cannot function properly, and left untreated, can result in death. “As a rule, we do not see a large number of hypothermia cases,” Pechal said. “A lot depends on the elements and where the person was at. It’s always a concern,” he continued, “but I don’t recall that we have seen a lot of hypothermia cases.”

Temple Fire and Rescue hopes to keep it that way. Due to the weather, the warming centers will remain open until Sunday. Breary encourages residents to take advantage of these centers. He said, “With our house and our hearts, we welcome you.”