Buncombe County shelters operating under "code purple"


When temperatures drop below freezing in Asheville and Buncombe County, it’s known as, “code purple.”

Busy shelters like Western Carolina Rescue Ministries become even busier. Tilman Jackson is the director of operations and he says they open their doors to just about anyone that needs a warm place to stay.

"We open our doors and average about an extra 30 to 35 people,” he explained.

Jackson says this year, code purple events started earlier. They’re scrambling to get their facility ready to house those additional people.

"We move the chairs out of our chapel,” said Jackson. “We use the hallway. We are even willing to go into the dining room area. We haven't extended to that place yet."

The Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry's Veterans Restoration Quarters is also packed with veterans and people trying to escape the frigid temperatures. Tim Mcelyea is the group’s director.

"We don't turn anybody anyway. We constantly make room for folks when they show up,” explained Mcelyea. “We don't send anybody back out in the cold. If they show up here for shelter, we're going to shelter them."

Volunteers are prepared to unload their "code purple" trailer as needed as they see spikes during freezing temperatures.

Jackson expects the shelter, and many others in the area, to fill up.

"Looking out through the rest of this week and going into the next week, it's going to be all 'cold purple,'” said Jackson.

Jackson and Mcelyea said the shelters in the area are in need of blankets, clothing and monetary donations due to the early cold weather.

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