On one of the coldest nights of the year, about 80 volunteers with the Summit County Continuum of Care for the Homeless fanned out into the cold, snow and dark Tuesday to count the homeless.
They looked for tents, checked doorways and searched abandoned buildings in 10-degree weather.
It was part of the Point in Time Count of the Homeless, which is being done across the country, said Sue Pierson, chairwoman of the group.
“We are hoping in this kind of cold that folks have gone to seek shelter, even those who would prefer to stay outside,” Pierson said. “When temperatures get this low, a lot of them will go inside.”
Volunteers also set up tables at public locations around the county Tuesday, asking the homeless for information.
They also sent volunteers to shelters and soup kitchens to get an accurate count.
When the volunteers fanned out, they brought along clothing, blankets, food and personal items to give out.
The count is done every year, Pierson said, to determine if the things that agencies in the county are doing to help the homeless are working. The goal is to get more people in need into permanent housing.
Information collected is used in part to determine how much federal funding is received for homeless programs locally.
Last year, 647 people were living in shelters the day of the count and 166 were counted living on the streets, she said.
There is a big difference between this year’s count and last year’s, Pierson said. Last year, the temperature was nearly 60 when volunteers did the count. This year, the temperature was hovering above zero.
Because of the Arctic cold, volunteers moved quickly to wrap up the homeless count by 9 p.m.
“We [didn’t] want to put anybody in danger,” Pierson said.
Northeast Ohio is getting hit with the coldest weather of the season.
The culprit is a cold front that pushed its way through the Great Lakes, bringing Arctic air with it.
The Akron-Canton area remained under a wind-chill advisory through 11 a.m. today — with the wind chill dropping to 12 degrees below zero, the National Weather Service said.
The frigid temperatures bring a danger of frostbite and hypothermia.
Two patients were treated at Summa Health System’s Akron City Hospital on Tuesday for ice-related falls, spokeswoman Jennifer Farquhar said. A few people were treated at Summa’s emergency departments Tuesday for injuries from weather-related fender benders.
The low on Tuesday was 5 degrees at Akron-Canton Airport in Green. Temperatures were expected to remain in the teens today.
Akron had seen no major water main breaks, which often happen when the temperatures are extremely cold.
Public Service Director John Moore warned that could change as the mercury remains low.