Weekly Feature

2018-01-11 / Editorial

Warming stations should be in suburbs too

Bee Editorial

The cold weather has been unforgiving the past couple of weeks, with bitter temperatures dipping into the negative digits day and night.

Most of the time, we’re able to get from the office to our home or are able to hole up somewhere if we’re caught in inclement weather.

On the rare occasion that we’re stuck in a situation that leaves us stranded in our car or in a public place, we have no choice but to rely on the help of others, usually first responders, and find somewhere warm.

The Thruway crash on Jan. 2 left roughly 75 motorists stranded in frigid temperatures, and, thankfully, busloads of strangers were taken to Salvatore’s Grand Hotel to warm up and call loved ones.

Warming stations such as this need to be everywhere, because you never know where you might be stranded. We hear about these stations in the city — for example, “Code Blue” stations run by the Buffalo City Mission — but not so much in the suburbs.

At Monday’s meeting, Depew Village Board members brought up the possibility of having a designated warming station within the village, given the bitter nights we’ve experienced in the past week.

Officials discussed a partnership with not-for-profits or churches in the area for the endeavor. In the past, the American Red Cross has come in to man warming shelters, such as during “Snowvember,” and volunteers attended those affected by the storm at the Senior Center.

“We did it because of the safety issues of the people stuck in their cars. We didn’t want to find somebody stuck in their car after their car ran out of gas, and then we have a fatality, so that’s why we did it,” said Depew Police Chief Stan Carwile.

“We housed them in the Senior Center and contacted the Red Cross. The Red Cross came with food and cots, and basically the Red Cross took over.”

Officials seemed leery about making the Senior Center an official warming center though, as the necessities that go with housing someone involve extra spending the village would have to pay for.

“We discussed this a couple years ago. If we opened our doors and brought somebody in from the outside, then we’d have to feed them; if there are medical issues we’d have to deal with that. It opens us up to all kinds of litigation,” said Depew Mayor Jesse Nikonowicz.

Given that we have two months of winter ahead of us, hopefully the village will discuss the matter further and reach out to prospective warming center locations.

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