A city-run warming shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center is completely full, even after nearly quadrupling capacity form what was originally expected when the storm first hit, according to Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Turner said the city expected about 200 people to seek shelter at the convention center, though the space was prepared for up to 500. That capacity was nearly reached within hours of opening Monday.
By Tuesday afternoon, nearly 800 people were inside seeking relief from the cold, the mayor said.
The shelter wa sinitially intended just for the city’s homeless population. But because of power outages across the region that knocked out peoples’ heating systems, that had to be expand, Turner said. And that expansion is limited by the still-surging coronavirus pandemic in Houston.
“One of the reasons why we just can’t add additional people to the George R Brown is because of the health care protocols,” Turner said. “We still have to have the social distancing, the sanitizers. I mean, all of the medical protocols we have to adhere to. So that’s critically important.”
Metro buses are transporting those in need to other warming centers, including Lakewood Church, which still has plenty of space, Turner said. Pastor Joel Osteen said anyone is welcome at that center.
Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale offered up two of his Gallery Furniture locations as shelters for people escaping the winter chill.
The 6006 North Freeway location in Houston the 7227 W. Grand Parkway S. location in Richmond are both with electricty, and will both provide hot food and water to people without power.
COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place, and McIngvale asked people to bring extra masks for those who don’t have one.
There are also warming locations across Harris and surrounding counties. Anyone who needs a warm place to stay should call 311 to find out which places are open.
At least two unhoused people in Harris County died Monday night, according to county and city officials.
Harris County sheriff’s deupties discovered the body of a 60-year-old man at the overpass of I-10 East at Sheldon Road just before noon Monday. The Sheriff’s office said members of its homeless outreach team had previously offered to take the man to a shelter, but he refused. The cause of the man’s death has not yet been confirmed by an autopsy, but the sheriff’s said his death was “possibly from exposure.”
Houston police Chief Art Acevedo also confirmed the death of a man found at the 3500 block of Spur 527 near Bagby Street. The unidentified man was discovered by someone passing by, who called HPD. The man was dead when officers arrived, Acevedo said.
Two others died of carbon monoxide posioning, Acevedo said.
The Houston Fire Department has responded to more than 90 calls related to carbon monoxide posioning in the city, according to Fire Chief Samuel Peña. There had been 56 fire calls over a last 24-hour period as of noon Tuesday.