Oklahoma shelters offer care for needy

BY SONYA COLBERG AND VALLERY BROWN Published: January 29, 2010
No one knows how the homeless men living in crude camps will stay protected from the sleet and ice of the storm.

"Almost anywhere there’s a wooded place in the city, you’ll see their makeshift tents. We know they’re there,” said Jesse Mercer, assistant director of Jesus House.

No matter how much icy misery is expected, these homeless men can’t be persuaded to go to the shelters, said Dan Straughan, Homeless Alliance executive director.

"Those guys are hardy and prepared for this kind of thing,” he said.

When the 2007 ice storm destroyed trees and homes, the men’s camp sites were also destroyed. The campers were forced into the shelters on the third day of the storm.

"If it gets really, really bad and you decide to take yourself to a shelter, imagine how will you get there, slogging 10 or 12 blocks through the ice to the shelter?” Straughan said.

If the storm gets severe enough, the campers will likely end up at Jesus House, he predicted. They are uncomfortable in crowds often due to post traumatic stress syndrome or mental illness and are difficult to handle, he said.

Like the men in homeless camps, the abused or medically compromised elderly presented concerns as the ice storm raced into Oklahoma.

An elderly woman just out of the hospital after being beaten by a relative joined elderly people Thursday at the Sunbeam Family Services emergency shelter.

The shelter is a place of warmth, emotional and physical, in the storm, Bernie Garrison said.

"They’re doing real good. We’re nice and warm,” he said. "We’ve got backup generators if we lose power and if it gets too cold, we’ll get them to a motel.”

Garrison gives back to Sunbeam because the service at 609 NW 20 helped him when he suffered a stroke. Severe weather coverage Know it: Winter Survival

Trending Now


  1. 1
    OU basketball: Time, TV listing announced for Sooners' December game against Washington
  2. 2
    Lawsuit: 'Duck Dynasty' stole 'camo' idea
  3. 3
    Here's What Gaza Explosions Look Like From Space
  4. 4
    Preseason All-ACC team has nine Florida State players
  5. 5
    Sarah Palin bites into 'True Blood' for 'misogynist attacks'
+ show more