Knox Area Rescue Ministries expects a big crowd for the cold weather

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – With the temperatures falling, Knox Area Rescue Ministries expects a big crowd in their shelter Thursday night. KARM says it is prepared and ready to take people in.

Whenever temperatures reach 32 degrees and below, the white flag comes up. It’s a warning of freezing weather for everyone.

KARM doesn’t want to see anyone become ill from the cold weather. That’s why their doors are open, taking every person in need in.

“We’ll make sure that no one has to spend the night out in the cold,” said Burt Rosen, President and CEO of Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries.

George Eberline has been homeless since being released from prison four days ago. He’s been finding ways to survive in this weather without a coat. He says he’s not used to this.

“Being locked up for a long time and coming out to this is totally a different story,” said Eberline.

Eberline is just in luck because KARM is one of the rescue missions in town offering hats, gloves and coats.

Walter Green Jr. from Roane County says without KARM opening its doors; he wouldn’t know how to brave the weather. He’s been homeless for a little more than a year.

“I’m very thankful if it wasn’t for places like this, a lot of people would be out on the streets and that’s really rough,” said Green.

“This type of weather permits us to use the white flag to allow people to come in to stay warm. If there’s a risk of freezing we want them to come in and stay warm, instead of risking their lives on the street,” Terry Bray, the KARM Director of Frontline.

Cold weather can cause health problems and in some cases even death. KARM wants to help save the homeless from those issues. That’s why they started the “White Flag Policy” a few years ago. This allows the shelter to take in an increased number of people overnight.

“The idea is to make sure that folks know that it’s cold, it’s dangerous and their health is actually at risk If they continue to stay outside,” said Rosen.

KARM has a little more than 200 beds in their shelter. Officials say they expect an increase in need Thursday night. When that happens, the overflow will receive mats and sleep in the shelter’s chapel.

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