WATCH: Shelter operators are scrambling to get volunteers, staff, and supplies in place to get homeless mats open during series of storms. April Lawrence reports.
Gerald Crocker is trying to warm up after spending a cold, wet night on the streets.
“I was all wet, my pants are wet and my sweater was wet and stuff,” said Crocker, who was getting soup at Our Place Friday to try to warm up.
Crocker was one of 16 people turned away from Our Place Thursday night, after their 50 emergency shelter mats filled up.
“It’s really hard to turn people away, and often they’re drenched already when they come in,” said Don Evans, Executive Director of Our Place Society.
With every homeless shelter in Victoria at capacity, it was a scene being played out across the city.
“It was miserable for them, absolutely miserable, they were freezing cold, they went to the church over here where they have mats for the floor but they were getting turned away,” said Leslie Tomiczek, who was getting a cup of coffee at Our Place.
Our Place has been the only shelter in the city able to open up extra beds during this series of storms.
“Our challenge has been getting staffing, we weren’t expecting to get into the season until November and so we haven’t hired staff yet,” said Evans.
The province doesn’t typically activate its extreme weather protocol until November 1.
But it has managed to open a few emergency shelters early, including one in Courtenay, Port Alberni, Ladysmith and Duncan.
But the emergency weather shelters in Port Hardy, Campbell River, Parksville, and Nanaimo remain closed.
For those who had to, today was about trying to catch up on sleep anywhere you could.
Our Place is trying to find volunteers so it can open up its drop-in centre starting Friday night so people can at least be indoors.
“Come in for a cup of coffee, something to eat, watch T.V., just get warm, because as each night goes on here it gets harder and harder for people on the street,” said Evans.
Gerald Crocker knows just how hard it is, with few supplies to shelter him from the storm.
“Just my sweater and my blanket that’s it,” he said.
Our Place is also collecting rain gear, and other warm clothing and blankets, so that those who do have to sleep outside, can at least be a little warmer, especially in advance of an even bigger storm Saturday.