Below freezing temperatures and strong winds are posing challenges for those exposed to the elements.

Local agencies said they are working to protect Erie’s most vulnerable and continue to accommodate those in need during the colder months, especially during a cold snap.

The CEO of the Mental Health Association said it’s important for agencies to work together to keep track of those who are exposed to dangerously cold temperatures.  

“We have constant communication amongst all the non-profits so as shelter providers and even daytime shelters like us and the Upper Room, we’re constantly emailing chatting with folks as were changing our hours, just so that we know were keeping tabs with everyone. So again, its get here and get out of the cold,” said Pat Stucke, CEO of the Mental Health Association of NWPA.

Stucke said the Mental Health Association opened two hours earlier Friday to get more people indoors.

“Our focus is to make sure they get a hot cup of coffee, they get a hot meal at lunchtime, they can take a shower, do laundry, just have fellowship and at the very least stay safe and get out of the cold,” Stucke explained.

Another daytime warming shelter said the need increases when it’s this cold, and they extend their hours to accommodate.

“We normally open at 8:00 but on cold days like this, me and my co-workers open up at 7:00 and we close at 7:00 so from here, they go to a different one,” Kennith Fuller, a staff member of the Upper Room of Erie.

“We get calls from hospitals and stuff for people, so we don’t turn anyone really away,” Fuller went on to say.

The seasonal overflow shelter is held at St. John Lutheran in the 2200 block of Peach Street.