Roanoke City weathers coldest temperatures in 17 years - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Roanoke City weathers coldest temperatures in 17 years

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 The streets are empty in the star city as Roanokers head indoors during the coldest night the city has seen in seventeen years.

Some are happy just to have a roof over the heads. Extreme cold temperatures have many homeless people taking shelter at the Roanoke Rescue Mission.

Freddie Curry, originally of New York has been though tough times over the past few months. For him, the mission is his only hope.

"If it wasn't for the rescue mission you would out there in the street in the cold,” Curry said.

 “Half of us might make it, half of us might not. You might freeze to death.”

He is among more than three hundred people who will be sleeping here for the night.

 The mission opened an hour early and handed out coats and blankets to help stay warm.

Gustafanders Sylvester-Johnson says freezing temperatures means the missions doors are open to everyone, despite previous records.

“Our policy anytime it is below 40 degrees we give them a place to stay. even if there are behaviors in the past that they couldn't stay in our shelter."

He says the weather typically doesn't drastically increase the number of guests they see, but the type cases they deal with.

"We do see a change in the guests that are staying,” Sylvester-Johnson said. “Many guests who do stay outside will come in in the extreme cold weather. “

The weather is also displacing some residents at the peak of the star city as Mill Mountain Zoo makes winter accommodations for their animals.

"With temperatures like these, we aren't taking any chances," Robin Lintz said.    

Night boxes for the larger animals like the deer are filled with hay and  bedding as they are moved indoors.

The train station is now the winter bird house. Each bird is kept in their own crate, shielded from the wind.

Normally the cold doesn't bother them but they're being kept warm just in case. Lintz says the cold can be just as dangerous to animals.

"Any animals out in these temperatures run the risk of frost bite and hypothermia."

It took two days to prepare the winter shelters, and Lintz says the animals will stay there during the duration of the extreme cold.

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