LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - East Texas homeless and rescue shelters are pleading with people to come in out of the cold.
Shelters are already running well over capacity in Longview, but the word is out that everyone who is homeless and outside should come in for their own safety.
Midday Sunday, the wind began to swirl, the temperatures began to drop, and Longview shelters began to fill.
"This is severe weather and we're going to do everything we can to keep people safe and healthy. "Our numbers are already increasing because of this cold weather," says Highway 80 Rescue Mission associate director, Rusty Fennell.
Already over capacity, the mission is pulling out mats and cots to sleep people on the floor.
"We're packed, we're jammed packed. We don't have that many winter jackets available right now," said one shelter worker.
But some homeless people remain outside in the elements."Some people will try to endure the night and wait until it warms up during the day. It's not going to warm up during the day for the next couple of days. If people don't have shelter, come into the mission, if people have shelter but do not have heat, come into the mission," Fennell says.
Sean Scott is homeless and has decided to weather the cold, in spite of available shelters, choosing to take his chances. "I bundle up, put an extra layer on. I've been out in the winter before, got a little in my back pocket so it's not my first rodeo," Scott says.
But the shelters can't force anyone to come in, and they worry that for some, without help, it could be a fatal decision.
"Now is the time to get into the shelter, now is the time to come to the mission, we're not going to turn anyone away," says Fennell.
The mission is asking for donations of food and warm clothing to meet the needs of those getting in out of the cold.