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Cold weather warning issued for area

By Staff | Jan 4, 2010

With a serious cold snap hitting Lee County this week, local officials are encouraging everyone to take precautions to protect themselves and their homes.
The National Weather Service in Ruskin, Fla., is reporting that temperatures won’t fall below freezing during the week in Lee County, but they are expected to dip into the high 30s.
A slight warming trend is expected later in the week, but rain and cold weather rears its head again by the weekend.
The American Red Cross of Lee County is urging people dress appropriately, by layering clothes and wearing hats.
Inside the home, they’re hoping careful use of candles, fireplaces and generators.
The Red Cross also wants people to check their smoke alarms and keep their thermostats at a consistent temperature.
Colin Downy from the Red Cross said they normally don’t handle cold weather shelters, but are ready if the demand increases.
“If the Lee County Emergency Operations Center calls and tells us we need to open a shelter, we’re ready,” Downy said.
The Salvation Army of Lee and Hendry Counties opened its doors to people because of the cold Sunday night, but officials said they didn’t get a large turnout at the shelter
“Last night we had 17 people, but as the nights get colder the number of people will increase,” said Jacqui Williams, Salvation Army spokeswoman.
The shelter for women and children is always open, Williams said, but the Salvation Army opens its outreach center for men during cold nights.
The shelter opens when the temperatures dip below 40 degrees. Temperatures are expected to do so several times this week.
Although the shelter is on a first-come first-served basis, Williams said there’s plenty of room.
“We never turn anyone away,” Williams said. “We make concessions for people in need.”
While temperatures are expected to dip into the 40s, Richard Rude from the National Weather Service said people don’t have to worry too much about the cold effecting their plants.
Temperatures have to remain below 32 degrees — which is freezing — for three hours or more to cause serious damage to plant life.
“It would really depend on the vegetation they’re worried about … it’s an individual decision at this point,” Rude said. “There are some tropical and subtropical plants that would like it if they were covered up.”
The Salvation Army Shelter is located 2476 Edison Ave. in Fort Myers. For more information, call the Salvation Army at 278-1551.