As Winnipeg remains in the icy grips of an extreme cold snap, a city homeless shelter says its desperately looking for donations to keep up with demand.
Pastor Daniel Emond, chair of Lighthouse Mission, says the bitter cold has had a “devastating” effect on the city’s vulnerable population.
Read more: Extreme cold bears down on southern Manitoba
“Especially when the the temperatures drop below -20, people are just distraught and coming in for warm food and hampers,” Emond told Global News Morning Winnipeg Monday, as extreme wind chill values dropped to nearly -50 C in the city, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“It’s hard to deal with some days; it’s overwhelming.”
Extreme cold warnings are in effect across much of western Canada, beginning in British Columbia and stretching right across the Prairie provinces and into northwest Ontario.
Environment Canada says an Arctic ridge of high pressure is to blame, allowing a cold air mass to settle over southern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba.
And it’s not expected to break anytime soon — the national weather service is forecasting the bitterly cold air will remain over the Prairies for much of the next week.
Emond says that’s left Lighthouse scrambling to find warm winter clothes. He says he was shocked to see a man without a winter jacket come in over the weekend.
“When you see somebody walk in with no jacket, our hearts go out,” he said. “We need winter coats, socks, gloves, good winter boots.
“We want to try to keep everybody as safe as possible.”
Lighthouse is also looking to raise enough money to help pay for an emergency expansion of the missions space at 669 Main Street.
Emond says they need roughly $220,000 to renovate a neighbouring building to give another 10 people a warm place to stay.
“We’re trying to follow all of the safe distancing, but at the same time keeping people safe, warm, and alive,” he explained.
Donations or winterwear can be brought directly to the shelter, or arranged through Lighthouse Mission’s website.
Meanwhile CAA Manitoba said it was overwhelmed with requests for service Monday morning.
Spokesperson Christa Mariash said the organization has helped nearly 3,000 drivers — everything from dead batteries to tows — since Friday.
Environment Canada forecasts another bitterly cold night Monday, with temperatures falling to a low of -29 C overnight and the wind chill making it feel like -44.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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