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Homeless woes amid frigid temperatures
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The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has confirmed 29 weather-related fatalities since a State of Emer-gency was declared Feb. 16. This includes nine deaths which are hypothermia related.
With frigid temperatures, providing shelter for the homeless becomes a pressing concern as local UCHRA director Kim Luton can attest.
“I’d say we’ve helped 15 people just in the past week,” said Luton of the homeless situation in Warren County. “These are people out on the streets with nowhere to go and they are out there for a number of circumstances.”
Luton said some people seeking emergency housing had been staying in their cars but can’t brave the temperatures when they approach single digits. Others have been having rent paid by a third party who is no longer able to fulfill that obligation, or have been living at a place where they can no longer stay.
With the recent bone-chilling temperatures, attention has turned to a homeless camp off Smithville Highway near the fairgrounds. The camp has been there for months, according to the property owner, with up to six people staying there at times before the cold weather hit and reduced numbers.
The Standard didn’t find anyone at the camp Tuesday but there appeared to be recent activity there.
“We’ve been putting people in hotels for a night and transporting others to shelters,” said Luton. “We’ve been working some with the new women’s shelter here.”
Whitestone Women’s Shelter has opened on Spring Street to provide women a place a stay.
A men’s shelter has been open for around eight years at the old Humane Society building next to the Highway Department.
With UCHRA managing the UCARTS transportation buses, Luton says getting local residents to doctor appointments is also a concern in bad weather.
“When it snows, I hope and pray it’s not on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday because we transport so many people to dialysis,” said Luton. “I worry we won’t be able to get them there and back.”
The concern for the homeless comes as TEMA says there have been at least 29 weather-related deaths confirmed since the first storm hit last Monday, Feb. 16. One death reported in Hickman County came when the person was una-ble to get his regular dialysis treatment.
The reported fatalities are as follows:

• Benton County – One fatality: 64-year-old female, motor vehicle accident
• Campbell County – Two fatalities
- 76-year-old male, weather related
- 32-year-old-male, weather related
• Claiborne County – Two fatalities
- 63-year-old male, weather related
- 53-year-old male, weather related

• Cumberland County – One fatality:  83-year-old male, carbon monoxide poisoning

• Hamilton County – One fatality: 63-year-old male, hypothermia related
• Haywood County - One fatality: 40-year-old female, motor vehicle accident
• Henry County – Two fatalities:
- 64-year-old female, hypothermia related
- 69-year-old male, hypothermia related
• Hickman County One fatality:  67-year-old male, dialysis patient, unable to get to treatment
• Knox County – Four fatalities:
- 30-year-old male, motor vehicle accident
- 75-year-old male, fire
- 68-year-old female, fire
- 47-year-old male, fire
• Moore County – One fatality: 73-year-old male, hypothermia
• Overton County – One fatality: 38-year-old female, motor vehicle accident
• Polk County – One fatality: 79-year-old male, weather related
• Roane County – One fatality: 44-year-old male, hypothermia related
• Sequatchie – One fatality:  85-year-old male, hypothermia related
• Sevier – Two fatalities,
- 70-year-old female, weather related;
- Male (age unknown), weather related
• Shelby County – Three fatalities:
- 48-year-old male, hypothermia related;
- Male (age unknown), hypothermia related;
- Demographics unknown, hypothermia related
• Sumner County – One fatality:  Male, 60s, weather related

• Wayne County – One fatality:  82-year-old male, weather related

• Williamson County – Two fatalities:
- 34-year-old female, motor vehicle accident
- 10-year-old male, motor vehicle accident