MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Thursday night people were taking shelter at various warming centers in the Pee Dee. There are two open in Florence, and then two open at fire stations in both Mullins and Marion. Some will remain open through Saturday, but in the Grand Strand there are no warming shelters open.
Thursday morning around 9 a.m. the body of William Henry,60, of Florence County, was found dead, in the 1500 block Carver Street in Myrtle Beach. According to the Horry County Coroner's Office, the homeless man may have died from hypothermia and malnourishment.The coroner's office also confirmed Henry also had some other health issues that may have contributed to his death.
Many homeless were at Street Reach Ministries Thursday night, waiting in line for a hot meal. Kathy Jenkins, Executive Director with New Directions of Horry County, said their policy during extreme weather is not to turn anyone away. "We might not have bed capacity for everybody who comes to us tonight, but we will get them in out of the cold; we'll give them a hot meal, and we'll do that as long as the temperatures are as low as they are," explained Jenkins.
Right now there are no warming shelters in place for Horry County. Red Cross Disaster Program Manager, Lou Palm said it is up to government officials to access the need for shelters and make a decision. "The community determines if there's a need. Our government partners know their communities they know where the people that have less heat are located, so they would let us know," said Palm.
Palm said they have provided assistance to other counties like Marion, to supply cots and blankets to area churches who provide their facilities as a place of shelter. Palm added,"We did in Marion County, they know their community; they know the need up there, and so they asked us to support to warming shelters that they have currently been on-going."
Randy Webster, Director for Horry County Emergency Management said they do have one shelter on standby that should be active quickly if they should receive any calls. Webster said generally they do not receive a lot calls for warming shelters, so they do not open them unless there is a need. He added that many times they open various shelters in the county and no one shows up.
Jenkins with Street Reach year-round their programs allow them to provide shelter to those who are homeless looking to get back on their feet, but during these extremely frigid temperatures they wanted give as many a warm place.
"We have a 150 mats about 90 of those are actually beds so once we go beyond the 150 beds we have all we're offering is for people to have the opportunity to get out of the cold,"explained Jenkins.
The Red Cross affirms if shelter is needed they will be on hand. "We have teams prepared, we've got a plan, we're ready to respond to any request from government to open a shelter or request from any church out there to help support a shelter we are prepared to do that," said Palm.