White flags are out as icy chill grips the Triangle

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Shelters putting out a white flag to welcome anyone in need of getting out of the cold weather (WTVD)

White flags are flying outside shelters across the Triangle as the region readies for some of the coldest air since January. The white flag means no one in need of warm shelter will be turned away.

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.

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.

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The white flag is up in Durham as temperatures dip across the Triangle.

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