Thurston County Activates Hazardous Weather Response

The “Code Blue” advisory calls for expanded shelter beds

Submitted by Thurston County Board of County Commissioners

The National Weather Service has issued a forecast for below freezing weather patterns in the Puget Sound area during the next five days. In response to this predicted weather pattern, Thurston County Public Health and Social Services is issuing a “Code Blue” advisory to increase shelter capacity beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4, and extending through Friday, December 7 at 7:00 a.m.

County, city, and local advocacy and non-profit organizations have been working together as the Hazardous Weather Task Force (HWTF) for the past year to develop a plan to address harsh weather conditions and the effects on vulnerable unsheltered populations. The HWTF developed the “code blue” model to be enacted during extremely cold or hazardous weather conditions. During a “code blue”, organizations, including HWTF members, take special measures to keep people who are homeless safe by expanding shelter services to accommodate the increased need. The HWTF will assess the model used during this event to enhance the response in future events.

“This hazardous weather puts those in our community who do not have adequate shelter or heat sources at serious risk of hypothermia or even death,” said Public Health Director Schelli Slaughter. “Activating ‘cold blue’ will allow for additional emergency shelter capacity to keep our most vulnerable populations safe, dry, and warm.”

During this code blue activation period, expanded shelter options are available at the Salvation Army and Union Gospel Mission for single men and women. Family Support Center’s Pear Blossom Place is available for families with children needing shelter and Community Youth Services is available for youth ages 18-24.

Volunteers and donations of blankets, coffee, creamer, cup of soups, and other snacks are needed. Items can be dropped off at the Salvation Army after 6:00 p.m. For volunteer opportunities please visit, https://www.iwshelter.org/code-blue.html or email Anna Schlecht at aschlech@ci.olympia.wa.us.

For more information call Thurston County’s Coordinated Entry Shelter and Housing Hotline at 1-844-628-7343.

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