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ELYRIA -- Due to the anticipated extremely cold temperatures, the City of Elyria and its community partners are operating a warming center and overnight shelter at St. Mary Parish parish hall, 320 Middle Avenue, that started at 7 p.m. Sunday Jan. 26.

The hall is off St. Mary's Way, between 3rd and 4th street). The shelter will continue operating as long as needed, which is projected to be at least 8 a.m.Wednesday Jan. 29.

This community collaboration, staffed by the City of Elyria and other participating organizations and volunteers, will offer safe, secure, comfortable shelter and food and beverages to the area's homeless, those living in conditions with low or no heat, or individuals and families that may have broken furnaces or water pipes.

The shelter will be under the supervision of the Mayor's Office with support from the Elyria Police Department. Support services will also be provided by the Elyria Public Health Department and the Elyria Fire Department.

Police officers, fire department personnel and public health professionals will be making people aware of the shelter through direct interaction and outreach activities, checking believed locations of homeless persons, distribution of flyers in public gathering places and businesses, and through the local media throughout the 4-day period.

The faith-based community, led by Reverend Charles Diedrick of St. Mary Parish, will be sharing information, providing volunteers and taking up a collection to help fund the shelter effort.

The American Red Cross is providing cots, blankets and sheets; Lorain County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency is assisting in communications and coordination of the warming center and overnight shelter; and University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center is providing blankets, food as needed and volunteer personnel.

Area restaurants will be asked to donate food. During the last extreme cold spell, Olive Garden, Panera Bread, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Sam's Club, Marcos Pizza and Wolfys Bistro and Pub provided food and beverage to the shelter.

Individuals who come to the shelter may bring their domestic animals only if they are caged.

You can call the city's hot line phone number 440-323-3302 (Elyria Police Dispatch) or 211 for additional information.

"On behalf of the City and those we serve, I would like to extend our most sincere appreciation to everyone who is working so very hard to keep all of our residents safe and warm during this very difficult winter," said Mayor Holly Brinda.

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