The flag flew outside the Durham Rescue Mission. The organization activating what it calls Operation: Warm Shelter.
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"It means that we don't want nobody to freeze to death out there. Everybody's welcome to come in," said Durham Rescue Mission Founder Ernie Mills.
A homeless war vet in Durham among the many seeking warm shelter amid the coldest temps since January. At 11. ?? pic.twitter.com/vp4XhisSRn— Joel Brown (@JoelBrownABC11) March 15, 2017
Mills says 380 beds are filled on any typical night. But when the doors are opened for cold weather, that number can jump to more than 400.
"So this becomes an emergency shelter," Mills said as he showed us the cafeteria floor that will be used to house the overflow of local homeless. The mission supplies blankets, pillows and 2 warm meals.
Charles Battle decided to come in from the cold.
"No I wouldn't (have anywhere else to go)," Battle said after he checked in at Durham Rescue Mission.
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Battle said he's a Marine veteran who served three tours in Vietnam. Battle, born, raised, and now homeless in Durham, said a warm bed on a dangerously cold night make him feel one thing: "Secure."
He added, "I'm out of the weather. I'm warm, I eat."
White flag shelters are available for anyone who needs it from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning.