Residents seek shelter from historic snowstorm

ERIE, Pa. -- Warming centers and shelters are hosting guests that are homeless and others who are in need of a warm place to stay.

After both walking and riding the bus from the Erie’s west side to downtown, Rob Heidelberg needed a place to take a break.

"A good resting spot sometimes to even collect your thoughts," he said.

In the midst of a storm that had dumped up to five feet of snow on parts of Erie County by Tuesday evening, Heidelberg was one of dozens of people visiting The Upper Room, a daytime shelter that hosts up to 60 visitors daily at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 1024 Peach St.

Ron Cooley, manager of The Upper Room, said, guests are invited with "no questions asked. Just sign in. Come in and have a cup of coffee and enjoy whatever we have."

Many sidewalks were covered with deep snow, which forced a lot of people to walk in the street.

"So, you're like ducking and dodging traffic and everything,” said Heidelberg. “People have been considerate, though… flashing lights, beeping the horn real quick."

Heidelberg said he had seen plow crews working throughout the day.

"The sidewalk. The streets. They did the best they could to keep things clear, but still it's causing problems. It's like a domino effect. Once you clear the road, the snow is on the sidewalk. Next thing, it's in the driveway."

Those were challenges for all residents, but particularly those who had to brave the elements.

Erie resident Mar Leamy said, "It's difficult to do anything in it. Walking, driving, living, breathing in this snow."

The Upper Room works in coordination with the Mental Health Association and its warming center. 

For more information, click here.

Individuals in need of shelter can also visit other facilities, including Community Shelter Services at 655 W 16 St and the Overflow Shelter at Church of the Nativity at 251 E Front St.


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