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Warming Stations and Emergency Shelters Open as Weather Turns Freezing

Lay Park will serve as an emergency shelter this weekend. Credit: Athens-Clarke County

Several local organizations are opening warming stations and emergency shelters this weekend as temperatures are expected to drop into the teens and single digits at night.

Athens-Clarke County and the Red Cross are operating an emergency cold weather shelter in the Lay Park gym. The shelter will be open from 5 p.m.—8 a.m. Friday through Sunday. No food will be provided, and while organizers are working to secure cots, people may have to bring their own bedding, according to the ACC Homeless Coalition.

Mayor Kelly Girtz had initially said that the city would not be providing an emergency shelter, instead relying on local churches. But when churches were unable to open their doors and the Red Cross offered staffing support, the plan changed, Girtz later said. However, volunteers are still needed to help run the shelter; a signup sheet is available at

The emergency shelter has a capacity of 125 people. No pets, alcohol, drugs or weapons are allowed.

The men’s side of the Salvation Army shelter remains closed for renovations, but it is accepting women, families and nonbinary individuals. The Bigger Vision shelter is adding 10-20 emergency beds (call 706-340-6062 at 4 p.m. to reserve one). Twin Angels Community Center is also serving as an emergency shelter, picking people up from Bigger Vision at noon.

Further out of town, Nicholson Baptist Church has a warming station. Gov. Brian Kemp has also opened warming stations at state parks, and entrance fees will be waived. The closest to Athens are Fort Yargo in Winder and Hard Labor Creek in Rutledge.

Other homeless service providers—including The Sparrow’s Nest and the Advantage Homeless Day Service Center—are closed for the holidays. The ACC Library has a delayed opening at 1 p.m. today due to the weather and will be closed Christmas Eve through Dec. 26.

A “bomb cyclone” is causing temperatures to plummet across much of the country. The low for Athens will be 9 degrees tonight, 17 degrees on Saturday and 18 degrees on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.