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“It’s a priority:” MPD’s HOT Team, other advocates work to keep homeless, elderly safe from the cold

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A Wind Chill Advisory remains in effect through noon Thursday, January 8th, as the bitter cold continues to grip southeastern Wisconsin. We'll see cold air again Wednesday night with air temperatures falling below zero, and we'll see temperatures falling to -9 by Thursday morning, with wind chills around -34 at sunrise Thursday. Agencies across Milwaukee are coming together to offer resources as this dangerous cold continues. The elderly, the disabled and the homeless all have folks looking out for them when temperatures drop.

Milwaukee police say they want to make sure everyone living on the streets has a safe, warm place to stay. A FOX6 News crew tagged along as they offered help and resources to those in need.

Their first stop Wednesday evening was under I-94. It's a spot at least three men call home.

"They have some heating vents so they will try to keep warm using those," Milwaukee Police Officer James Knapinski said.

Knapinski was on patrol Wednesday with his partner Milwaukee Police Officer Israel Rivera, looking to help Milwaukee's homeless make their way to shelters.

"Normally after 8:00 p.m. is when they are all starting to hang out over here," Rivera said.

Officers Knapinski and Rivera are part of MPD's Homeless Outreach Team -- HOT for short.

"Especially when it`s deadly cold outside - it`s a priority to get them somewhere warm for the evening," Knapinski said.

Knapinski makes the rounds on a regular basis. He has been warning the homeless of the coming dangerous cold for the last week. Thankfully, it seemed Wednesday as though some were able to get out of the elements for the night -- but officials were warning all citizens of the dangers associated with this extreme cold.

Advocates for the elderly, the disabled and low-income residents gathered Wednesday afternoon for a press conference to get the word out about three numbers that can save lives: 211 -- available 24 hours a day every day of the year.

Dialing 211 will connect you with a call center and resources available if you need help as the mercury falls.

One place seen as a safe, warm place for many is the Milwaukee Public Library.

Knapinski stopped there Wednesday to pass out some blankets, gloves and hats.

Throughout his time on the HOT Team, Knapinski says he has helped more than 500 individuals.


Are you in need of any help with social services? Remember that help is as close as a telephone call to 2-1-1

Wisconsin Department of Health: List of warming shelters

Aging Resource Center of Milwaukee County

Desatar Ministry warming shelter

Milwaukee Rescue Mission

Repairers of the Breach

Waukesha County Severe Cold online directory

Racine County Emergency Management

Milwaukee Health Department Cold Weather Safety

Department of Health Services Winter Weather Safety Tips


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