With the February 7 evening temperatures expected to hit single digits and coupled with the possibility of renewed power outages, Reverend Chris Baker of the Centralia First Baptist Church said the city of Centralia has asked him to reopen the church’s warming center.
“Due to the potential for overnight power outages, we’ll be opening our facility this evening to anyone in need. Doors will be open from 4pm through tomorrow morning. The First Baptist Church will be open all night as a warming station for anyone in need. The double doors facing Collier St will be unlocked,” Baker said.
It was a service he said he had seen in larger communities and after speaking with some city officials thought there might be a need in Centralia.
“I spoke with Chief Bias and Heather Russell Centralia’s city administrator and they both thought it was a good idea,” Baker said.
The church opening up to help people during harsh weather is not a new action.
“We opened as a cooling station in the summer, but this will be the first time I’m aware of that we have done it during the winter,” Baker said. “I’ll check in through the night but there won’t be a permanent staff presence. We’ll have some chairs, hot chocolate, and snacks out in the foyer but they’ll need their own bedding. The gym is open for folks to set up to sleep if need be. bathrooms are available as well.”
Russell said it was a good idea.
She said Baker had called her after consulting with Bias and she gave the idea her full approval.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Russell said. “We always do something in the summer when it’s really hot, so it makes sense we have a place to go when it’s really frigid.”
Russell said she could not recall anybody in the city hosting a warming station before, but thought this might be one of the few times when it was cold enough it would be really needed.