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Cold weather shelters fill up as ice storm hits Portland metro area

Bitter cold temperatures, sleet and freezing rain forced vulnerable people to stay in cold weather shelters across the Portland metro area.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Even before the expected ice storm arrived in the Portland metro area Thursday night, a bitter cold start to Thursday forced a lot of vulnerable people to spend the night in severe weather shelters.

At the Salvation Army severe weather shelter in Hillsboro, people were seen bundling up in sheets and warm clothes.

"Imagine how cold it would be at 1 in the morning when there's nothing open and you can't go anywhere," said Kenny Hunter, who stayed at the shelter and was happy to find a warm place. 

The shelter has 30 beds total but are all currently being used. The shelter is also providing hot food and pets are welcomed.

Vietnam veteran John Hopkins has been homeless for the past two years. He's been living out of his truck and decided it was too cold to stay the night inside. Hopkins stayed at the Salvation Army shelter so he can warm up. 

"Miserable, that's an understatement," Hopkins said. "I have seen folks that actually should not be stuck in this scenario because they don't have the proper gear. Thank goodness for this place, it's the only thing keeping a lot of these people alive."

Outreach teams in the community are picking up vulnerable people and bringing them to shelters. 

In Multnomah County, the Sunrise Center is acting as a cold weather shelter. It holds 50 people and was full on Thursday. Cultivate Initiatives runs the Sunrise Center severe weather shelter, community engagement and Action Director Matthew McCarl said the shelter will be open at least through Friday.

"It's warm, there's coffee, hot chocolate and warm meals," McCarl said. "It's just a place where people can be around others that support them."

Cultivate Initiatives does accept clean clothing, blanket and financial donations. If people want to donate they can visit their website.

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