Emergency shelters overflow as most of Utah remains under ‘Code Blue Alert’

Jan 7, 2024, 4:45 PM | Updated: Jan 8, 2024, 6:22 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Many groups worked tirelessly to help those without shelter find a new place to stay as snow and freezing overnight temperatures moved in Saturday night into Sunday morning.

A total of 18 counties were placed under a “Code Blue Alert,” including Salt Lake County.

The alert is activated when the National Weather Service predicts temperatures will drop to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, accounting for wind chill, and when those conditions last for two hours or longer over the course of 24 hours.

“The code blue standard is 15 degrees, we like to stick to 25 degrees,” said Carl Moore with the 2nd & 2nd Coalition.

The group relies solely on volunteers and is aimed at helping people on the streets get out of the cold. They operate out of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Salt Lake City. The church’s doors are open on cold nights from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Many groups worked tirelessly to help those without shelter find a new place to stay as snow and freezing overnight temperatures moved in Saturday night into Sunday morning. (KSL TV)

The alert prompts emergency shelters to expand capacity by 35%. Moore said the group can only accommodate 85 people at that church location. Other shelters vary in capacity sizes.

“Last night I think there were about 20 to 30 people that couldn’t get in,” he said.

Moore said volunteers go around the area and try to pick people up and bring them to the shelter. He said that their course of action for those who couldn’t get in was to find transportation for them to other shelters, but it was challenging.

“People have to walk through the snow and walking through the snow gets people wet, their feet wet, their bodies wet,” he said.

Moore encourages those who can help to volunteer, especially during winter months.

Moore said the church will be open Sunday and Monday night. To learn more about the group and how you sign up to volunteer, click here.

For a list of shelters across the state, click here.

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Emergency shelters overflow as most of Utah remains under ‘Code Blue Alert’