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Indianapolis monitoring bitter cold forecast; no plans to open warming center

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The city of Indianapolis is monitoring the cold conditions this weekend. For now, there are no plans to open any warming centers.

While other cities are making plans to open them around the state, Commander Tom Sellas with IMPD’s Emergency Management said, he doesn’t feel like it’s necessary because of options that are already available through nonprofits.

“There are resources out there,” said Sellas.

Plus, even with temperatures in the single digits, it is still a good deal away from the city’s automatic triggering of a warming center.

It’s been two years since Indianapolis opened a warming center.

Sellas said the city jumps in when temperatures or sustained windchills are -15 degrees.

“We’re not looking at any additional weather issues other than the cold. We’re not going to have any freezing rain or icing up where it could cause massive power failures,” Sellas said.

Sellas adds if anyone has trouble staying warm, they can call the Red Cross, Salvation Army or the state’s 211 hotline.

If the need is there, he said the city can open up a warming center in two hours.

If one does, thanks to the pandemic, it will look different from those in the past with mask requirements as well as social distancing.

Others in Indianapolis Metropolitan police will be working to make sure the homeless have a safe place to turn, whether Wheeler Mission or elsewhere.

“The Red Cross is ready to open up more shelters than we would have right now that are set to go,” Sellas said.

Sellas added the last time a warming center was opened, it attracted just five people, part of the reason he’s confident current resources are sufficient. But he and others will continue to monitor until the threat is over.

“We’re prepared, we’re ready to move if it happens,” Sellas said.

Anderson, Madison and Shelbyville are among the places that have already announced they’re opening warming centers.