Communities prepare to open shelters, offer extended hours

(WITN) - With current freezing temperatures and anticipated snowfall, one Eastern Carolina homeless shelter says they'll be stepping up operations to make sure that no one has to brave the wintry weather outdoors.

Onslow Community Outreach says their homeless shelter in downtown Jacksonville has added more beds and extended their services to around-the-clock through Thursday to accommodate those who have no place to stay.

The nonprofit says they're also accepting donations of blankets, hats, gloves, scarves, and coats for current residents and others who need items to keep warm.

"We'd also like to make those available to any person within the community that may not necessarily be homeless but they may have minimal heat or no heat at all in their homes, and they may be in need of those items," says Cindy Williams, the shelter's director.

During the extended hours, the shelter will be providing hot chocolate, coffee, and soup.

The shelter says the Jacksonville Rotary Club has donated $300 to help with the additional services.

Meanwhile, in Beaufort County, emergency services say they're monitoring the eastern parts of the county for ice and high winds, which could create a potential for outages.

Preparation for the storm started Tuesday.

The department has a plan to open a shelter if needed. This would be the first time Beaufort County has opened a shelter since Hurricane Matthew.

Washington High School will serve as the shelter location if needed.