Warming Centers Open Across The Valley, But Roads Could Be Dangerous

ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) — Dozens of warming centers are open to those who need a warm place to stay as some of the coldest weather the Tennessee Valley has seen in years moves in.

Mac Martin is helping to run the warming center at First United Methodist Church of Athens. “We started [Sunday] at five PM and we’ll continue to have this warming station open to anyone who needs shelter and warmth through eight AM Wednesday morning,” Martin says.

That center is one of quite a few across the Tennessee Valley. “Night or day if somebody’s in need we want to open our facility to them,” Martin says.

However, EMA officials are worried that those who need the centers might not be able to get to them.

In Marshall County the EMA is bustling, monitoring the weather.

There’s nearly 20 warming centers in that county, but Marshall County EMA Director Anita McBurnett says come Sunday night and Monday morning, it will be dangerous for anyone in the Tennessee Valley to drive anywhere. “Our big concern right now is with the falling temperatures and the rain,” McBurnett says, “Any rain that is going to be on the roadways is going to flash freeze, and that’s going to mean black ice. So travel is going to be treacherous if not impossible.”

McBurnett says there’s the potential for power outages which would make those warming centers all the more valuable, but she says they’re hoping the roads will allow those who need it, to make it to one of the stations open for them.

Martin says no matter the weather, they’ll be ready for anyone who comes.  “Glad to take them in, and give them a place to stay warm in this arctic blast we’re going to be experiencing.”

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