Arctic blast concerns those who work with the homeless

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Some of the coldest air we've felt in years will freeze the Triangle over the next several nights and the extreme cold is really taking its toll on the homeless. Three people have died this past week all from exposure.

The temperatures can be life-threatening for those who live outside. Staff at homeless shelters cannot force people to come inside, but they are taking everyone in who arrives.

At the Helping Hands' New Bern House, staff removed tables and chairs in the dining room so mattresses and blankets could be placed on the floor.

Folks who run homeless shelters are doing their best to convince everyone without a place to stay to come inside instead of braving the blistery weather.

"I tell you what. I get frustration when I see what the temperature is," said Helping Hands Director Sylvia Wiggins. "Our people need to come in. It's a no brainier right now. This is the time not to play and not to be a warrior. Survival right now is the key."

Three people died this week trying to tough it out. It happened when the temperatures were slightly warmer than the arctic blast that's crashing down.

One person was found in Durham in N.C. Highway 55 near Hopson Road, and 40-year-old Steven Deflaco and 19-year-old Adam Creep were discovered in a wooded area of Raleigh off of Corporation Highway.

"My heart just actually bleeds for that. There's really no reason," said Wiggins.

Most shelters in the Triangle are at capacity right now. The Raleigh Rescue Mission's Emergency Women and Children's Shelter is 40 percent over capacity.

In addition to safe refuge, shelters are also offering hot meals and cold weather gear. Heavy coats, thick blankets, socks, gloves, and hats are out for the taking thanks to the generosity of others.

"We don't want nobody with frozen fingers, or amputated limbs and things because they didn't have what they need for this weather," said Wiggins.

Shelters tell ABC11 their supplies are running low. They're asking for the public to donate food, clothing, or money.

Shelters are expecting to be at capacity for days as the cold front pushes through.

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