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ORIGINAL STORY: Gwinnett County opened a "warming center" Tuesday afternoon as frigid — and possibly dangerous — temperatures approached.
It was an unusual move for a county that, despite having one of metro Atlanta's largest homeless populations, has not historically opened such facilities.
The center was scheduled to open at 4 p.m. at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, 182 Hunter St. in Norcross. Officials said there was room for about 300 people but stressed it would not offer sleeping accommodations, food, medical care or pet sheltering.
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It will serve only as “a temporary refuge from extreme cold for those who may need to drop in.”
“It’s going to be too cold for homeless people or anyone without adequate heating to be outside or in vehicles,” Gwinnett Emergency Management Director Greg Swanson said in a news release. “They’ll need a place to warm up, and the kind folks at Hopewell have stepped up to assist.”
A 2015 report from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs found that Gwinnett had the largest homeless population of any metro Atlanta community that wasn't the city of Atlanta,
It was unclear how long the warming center at Hopewell would stay open. Snow and subzero wind chills were expected to arrive Tuesday night and last well into Wednesday.
An employee at the Gwinnett Coalition of Health and Human Services, which helps coordinate the efforts of local nonprofit groups and other organizations, recommended those in need reach out to local cooperative ministries, food banks or the Salvation Army to try and find help.
Gwinnett County crews were slated to begin pre-treating roads and parking lots at “critical facilities” at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Roads and bridges where icing has presented previous problems were to follow, officials said.
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