Warming stations to be open to the public

MARTINS FERRY — With winter storms and falling temperatures, many people can face situations such as power outages from the harsh winds that leave them in the cold.

Being in harsh conditions for too long can put people of all ages at risk for frost bite or hypothermia. Area residents should be aware of where to find shelter if an emergency were to occur, so everyone can stay safe and comfortable. Many communities open their shelter doors when the weather is at its worst.

Monroe County offers shelter in its firehouses and community buildings, but residents should contact the sheriff’s department before reporting to a shelter so the shelter can expect them to come in. The sheriff’s department can be reached at 740-472-1612.

Harrison County officials have not yet decided to open shelter doors during the current bout of winter weather, but they will do so if necessary.

Grace Presbyterian Church of Martins Ferry is a shelter site in Belmont County. If your power goes out or you are stuck somewhere outside, the church is a warming center for the community, according to the Rev. William O. Webster. Depending on the conditions, the church has had a couple of people stay for as little as an hour, while at other times it has had a line outside its doors with people seeking shelter. If large groups of people report to the church, the building next door can be used.

In cases of extreme weather conditions, Webster said the church can be an emergency center. The church has had situations where people have had to stay overnight and be provided bed cots to sleep on.

Grace Presbyterian Church has a full kitchen with coffee and hot chocolate always ready for those who need to warm up. There are also meals provided so those who come in do not stay hungry and can fuel up for energy. The church also has a shower in its restroom, which is handicap accessible to accommodate those who have a wheelchair or walker.

Webster wants the community to know the church is a safe haven where people can feel secure and warm.

“We are here to provide hope and a little bit of healing in the midst of some of the crises they might be experiencing,” he said.

Other warming stations in Belmont County include:

∫ Bannock United Methodist Church, Bannock, 740-968-3081

∫ Barnesville Methodist Church, Barnesville, 750-296-8016

∫ Barton Social Hall, Barton, 740-296-9708

∫ Bethesda Church of the Nazarene, Bethesda, 740-484-1289

∫ Smith Township Fire Dept., Centerville, 740-310-0944

∫ Colerain Fire Co. Social Hall, Colerain, 740-699-0425

∫ Spirit of 76 Fire Dept., Bellaire,740-676-7676

∫ Flushing United Methodist Church, Flushing, 740-986-3081

∫ Maynard United Methodist Church, Maynard, 740-968-301

∫ First Presbyterian Church, St.Clairsville, 740-310-4641

∫ Village of Shadyside Community Center, Shadyside, Door is open

∫ Somerton Fire Dept., Somerton, 740-213-3738

∫ Sunset Heights Fire Dept., Bridgeport, 740-325-8528

∫ Church of the Nazarene, Powhatan Point, 740-742-4105

∫ Yorkville United Methodist Church, Yorkville, 740-859-3013