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Pensacola Church to Open Cold-Weather Shelter for Women, Kids

Ensley FBC

Rain is expected in the Pensacola area much of this week, thanks to a couple of storm systems moving through the area. Add to that dropping temperatures, which will open shelter doors.  

The latest hit was a fairly strong cold front that moved through on Monday, according to Jack Cullen at the National Weather Service in Mobile.

“The front became stalled to our east; the way the flow pattern’s arranged, we’ve got flow coming back up and over that front, which is generating all the clouds we have now, and all the rain,” said Cullen. “it’s kind of this cold, dreary rain – the type that most of us down here really dislike.”

Don’t look for any changes in the current weather pattern, until late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, when the front moves further east of the Panhandle and south Alabama, opening the door for some clearing.

“Rainfall amounts, with this light rain we’re getting, should be generally less than an inch in most areas; probably a lot less than that,” Cullen said. “So we’re not expecting any flooding with this. We’ve actually cancelled the flash flood watch that we had in effect.”

High temperatures are not expected to be very high for the next couple of days, mostly in the 40s across the region. But Cullen adds a warmup is on the horizon.

“Skies will start to clear Thursday morning, and then we’ll start slowly moderating,” said Cullen. “Highs on Thursday will be back into the low- to mid-50s along the coast and then back up near 60 by Friday. And then low 60s by Saturday.”

Residents along the Gulf Coast – at least for now – can wave goodbye to the muggy and hot conditions mostly associated with summer.

“The extended next seven to ten days looks fairly like our typical type of temperatures we see down here, with the brief warm-ups and cool-downs,” said Cullen. “But nothing extreme either way.”

Meanwhile, a number of organizations are readying their cold-weather shelters for use over the next couple of nights at least. One is at Ensley First Baptist Church on West Johnson Avenue.

“On a cold night, we’re looking at temperatures at 40 or below [to open],” said spokeswoman Sonya Parker. “Our season normally runs from December through March – the coldest weather than we get during the year.”

The shelter at the church was begun last year, in response to the lack of shelters for women and children.

“If we do see some cold weather, before or after those dates, then we certainly want to consider the need and provide for those that are either heatless, and/or homeless; and in need of a place to stay,” said Parker. “With a cot; a meal, as well as a shower if they need, and breakfast in the morning.”

The non-denominational shelter is part of Ensley 1st Baptist’s outreach ministry, reflecting the teachings of Christ when it comes to serving the area’s women and children. And there are plans in the works for expanding services.

“Our particular focus on women is actually a [sic] addition recovery program that we’re hoping to start this next year for women at the same facility,” said Parker. “So we have a particular interest in serving the women and children of Escambia County, and the surrounding area.”

The ground rules: women and kids only; no drugs, alcohol or weapons. Blankets, pillows, games for the kids, and other personal items are OK.

“We do have a security staff at the door, just monitoring and making sure there isn’t anything that’s illegal that would come into the shelter,” Parker said. “Otherwise they’re free to bring what they would need; any change of clothing and that sort of thing.”

The shelter is also looking for volunteers to staff a number of areas for when the shelter is opened, such as the Kitchen Team, Check-In Team, and the Overnight Team. More information is available by contacting the Ensley First Baptist Church, or on the Pensacola Bay Baptist Association’s Facebook page.