Longview shelter holds record number - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Longview shelter holds record number

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

LONGVIEW,TX (KLTV)- The brutally frigid temperatures over the past 4 days has caused more than just driving hazards. The cold has sent a record number of people are to a Longview shelter. Highway 80 Rescue Mission director Eric Burger has seen more people housed in his facility in the last 4 days than ever before.

"It's life threatening weather," said Burger. "So we go on a different standard, we also make sure we have more people to be awake because we may have some people that have special needs. We had 157 last night."

Many came in wet, shivering and hungry. Burger decided to forgo normal rules, deciding to take everyone in, that needed in.

"If there's been issues, maybe people's behavior in the past we suspend all those things. And we're seeing people we don't normally see, maybe folks that have some housing but it really doesn't have adequate heat, so we have not turned anyone away," said Burger.

When bus service was canceled on Thursday, some were left stranded in the cold.

"Our shoes were wet, feet cold, I was cold I didn't have a jacket we got here and they provided us with clothing and a hot meal and they took care of us right away," said shelter visitor Alex Lira.

The mission has 100 beds, and had to buy sleeping mats for the rest.

"It was just too cold, I don't even want to think about being out there," said Lira.

The record number put a strain on resources. But mission workers say it was well worth it, to give everyone a hot meal and a warm place to stay.

"We're lucky we came to this place right here," said Lira.

"When things like this happen, we don't look at them as a challenge we look at it as a great opportunity to serve people," said Burger.

The mission needs public help. Donations of non-perishable foods, blankets, gloves and jackets are needed.

Copyright 2011 kltv. All rights reserved.

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