EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 24, 2013

Dangerous cold keeps region in its grip


Greater Derry Public Health Network coordinator Garrett Simonsen said none of the communities in the region had set up warming stations.

He was encouraging people to protect themselves from the cold.

“If they are going to be outside for an extended period of time, they should cover their hands, their ears and wear scarfs,” Simonsen said.

People also should be mindful of health warning signs such as uncontrolled shivering, confusion or drowsiness, he said.

Sonshine Soup Kitchen in Derry saw a slight increase in demand.

“I’m seeing an increase of about six new people over the week,” program director Christine Fudala said.

The cold had forced some homeless to be on the move.

“I do know a couple of people who left Derry to go to Manchester because we don’t have shelters,” Fudala said.

Family Promise of Greater Rockingham County, founded by volunteers from churches in the region, aims to do something about that starting in February, when it starts providing services to homeless families.

New Family Promise director Victoria McKinney-Vareschi said the weather is a threat to those families.

“This is extremely dangerous,” she said yesterday. “The chill factors are in the negative numbers.”

Police typically will try to get the homeless into shelters when they encounter them in these conditions, she said.

Shelters experience challenges in the winter, too, she said.

“This is the time of year that shelters are crowded,” Fudala said.

Pets were also a worry in the cold weather.

“They need to think of animals as they would themselves,” said Patricia Mack, Salem Animal Rescue League’s manager of development and media relations.

That means brief walks for the dog in the back yard, but no lengthy exposure, she said.

“Lengthy exposure to the cold can affect them in the same way as us,” Mack said. “Protect your animal as you would yourself.”

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