Area shelters kept busy during storm

Nate King | Courtesy Photo

The overwhelming amount of donations the Tahlequah Police Department received was more than enough to handle the historic winter weather.

Several area shelters felt the impacts of last week's winter-weather snow storm.

Tahlequah and the surrounding area came to a halt amid a severe winter storm that lasted a little over a week.

On Feb. 12, Police Chief Nate King announced the city jail would be open as a temporary shelter during the record-breaking cold temperatures and 6-7 inches of snow fall.

"We serviced about four people a night the last five nights we were open," said King. "I was pretty proud of the way [officers] worked this week. They beat the brush a lot, went walking in the woods looking for people to try and get into the warmth."

King addressed the public in the early morning of Feb. 12, stressing TPD was in dire need of donations, like blankets, coats, stocking caps, hygiene products, and food.

TPD reported by Friday afternoon that it had enough donations to give to officers to distribute during patrols.

"We will keep most of those for officers to distribute during patrol. Those we have extra [of], we may donate to some of our non-profits locally," said King.

As far as donated funds, City Administrator Alan Chapman said those funds are donor restricted and are designated in a separate account that was approved by the council to help those in need.

"No immediate plan is in place for utilizing the funds other than transportation costs as Chief King requests," said Chapman.

Laura Garner, Director of Hope House of Cherokee County, said the shelter operated at full capacity last week.

"Amazingly, everything went smooth and we had the calls of different reasons," said Garner. "Our only problem that we had was the lack of transportation for people, but that was just because of weather and nothing that could be helped."

Mason Thomas Clemons, with the Zoë Institute, said they were able to provide food at the Tahlequah Day Center during the winter storm.

"We were still able to operate all week despite the snow and ice," Clemons said. "Some workers weren't able to make it in and a lot of our clients couldn't make it to the center.

Clemons said food items such as bread were hard to come by, but they were able to make ends meet and get food out to those in need.

"I'm glad that we were able to serve despite how crazy the weather was," said Clemons.

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