New Orleans activates freeze plan for homeless

New Orleans activates freeze plan for homeless

As cold temperatures threaten the area, the city of New Orleans has activated its freeze plan for the homeless.

The New Orleans Mission is one of four shelters opening their doors to the homeless. As temperatures drop, the City of New Orleans wants people to be prepared.

"We're definitely looking at below-normal temperatures for this time of year," said Tim Destri, senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Slidell. "This temperature, what we have now, is what we'd see in the heart of winter."

Destri doesn't think this wintry weather will let up anytime soon, and there's a chance it could get worse.

"It's called the polar vortex," explained Chief Meteorologist Bob Breck. "It breaks off and it drags the cold into the south. It doesn't happen that often, but it does occasionally. The key question is will it keep repeating itself and if it does - it means we could have some pipe-bursting temperatures around here. Maybe even snow."

That threat of an extended cold snap has prompted the city to make arrangements for the homeless, opening up the New Orleans Mission, Covenant House, the Salvation Army, and Ozanam Inn as part of their freeze plan. But meteorologist say there's something else to watch out for.

"One of the big things when we have freezes like we have tonight is people start using heaters," said Destri. "You have to be really careful."

It's part of the reason NOFD Fire Chief Tim McConnell, along with Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and dozens of volunteers took to the streets this afternoon. After a devastating fire on Broadmoor killed five people earlier this week, the city says they're doubling their efforts to get families to change batteries and check smoke detectors.

"This tragedy is not a failure but rather a call to arms to protect every child in this city," said McConnell in a press conference Thursday.

The group canvassed surrounding neighborhood helping residents change batteries and installing smoke detectors - little steps towards keeping people safe as temperatures drop.

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