DURHAM: Cold weather pushes Durham shelters to capacity - WNCN: News, Weather

Cold weather pushes Durham shelters to capacity

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The Durham Rescue Mission said it welcomed 332 men and 124 women Monday night. The Durham Rescue Mission said it welcomed 332 men and 124 women Monday night.
DURHAM, N.C. -

Shelters were filled to capacity in Durham Monday night with people trying to escape the cold.

The Durham Rescue Mission said it welcomed 332 men and 124 women. The mission was so full that it ran out of beds and had 11 people sleeping on the floor.

When it gets cold like it's been the last couple of nights, I can't do it myself. I had to find someplace to go," said Gary John Ruff, who has been without a home for about 18 months and has had several warm nights and warm meals at the shelter.

As the hundreds of beds filled up, Ruff was one of the 11 to spend Monday night on a mat on the floor.

"I was staying on a comfortable mat in the dining facility here at the Durham Rescue Mission, which is, to me, just as good as a bed," Ruff said. "So, I was very comfortable."

Rob Tart, chief operating officer for the Durham Rescue Mission, said he's happy to be able to help in any way, but the demand is "really stretching every resource we've got."

"It's rewarding because it's an opportunity to work with somebody, but you know it's kind of heartbreaking to have to put somebody on the floor," Tart said. "The men don't mind it very much. They're very gracious and thankful for the opportunity to be out of the weather."

Urban Ministries of Durham said Monday's cold led to the largest white flag count the shelter's experienced this winter. The shelter hangs a white flag when temperatures dip below 32 degrees.

Urban Ministries said it had 142 people last night – that's about 15 more than usual.

The cold was so severe that Durham Police officers checked areas around town to make sure those who couldn't find a shelter were OK.

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Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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