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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Gov. Ned Lamont extended the state’s severe cold weather protocol through noon on Feb. 2.

The protocol is in place to ensure the most vulnerable populations receive protection from severe cold conditions, which could be life-threatening if exposed to the elements for extended periods. 

“It’s appearing that over the next couple of weeks we’re going to experience temperatures that are even colder than what is normal for this time of year, in addition to the potential for multiple winter storms,” Lamont said. “This long-duration severe cold weather can be life-threatening if someone is outdoors for extended periods of time. Shelters are open across the state, and I urge anyone in need to get connected to these services. If you or someone you know is in need of shelter, call 2-1-1 and they will direct you to a nearby location and can also provide transportation if needed.”

While enacted, a system is set up for state agencies and municipalities to coordinate with United Way 2-1-1 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to make sure that anyone in need can receive shelter from the outdoors.

The state takes the following actions when the severe cold weather protocol is activated:

  • The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security activates its WebEOC communications network, which is an internet-based system that enables local, regional, and state emergency management officials and first responders to share up-to-date information about a variety of situations and conditions. The system is used to monitor capacity at shelters across the state, enabling 2-1-1 to act as a clearinghouse to assist in finding shelter space for those who need it. Local officials, working through WebEOC, can alert 2-1-1 and the state when they open temporary shelters or warming centers.
  • The Connecticut Department of Social Services, Connecticut Department of Housing, and Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services coordinate with 2-1-1 and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, along with community-based providers, to provide transportation for people seeking shelter.

In Waterbury, an option for the homeless is the Center for Human Development (CHD). Once word came from the governor last week, Lori Walling and her staff and volunteers went to work.Thirty beds will be socially distanced, and there are blankets, food and a shower.

“We do have testing,” Walling said. “The test kits, we did get some of those, so if someone comes in with a fever we are able to test them. We take our temperatures, we have hand sanitizer out all over the center and we sanitize every half hour.”

If someone does test positive, Walling said they are taken to a hospital. She said they never put anyone outside without a plan.

“I hear it all the time. ‘Thank you, that was wonderful.’ ‘Thank you for the coffee, thank you for just talking to me,'” CHD volunteer Marlena Copper said. “It just feels so good sometimes you know, because you never know what someone is going through until they walk in the door. So, I’m grateful.”