BANGOR, Maine — According to weather experts, storms and strong winds from Hurricane Lee will hit Maine Saturday evening.
National Weather Service (NWS) warning coordination expert Louise Fodie said people should stay home, keeping out of inclement weather, but with widespread homelessness throughout the state, many unhoused people don't have a home to go to.
Homeless shelters across Maine are adjusting their hours to make sure people who are unhoused have someplace dry while weathering the storm.
First Parish Church in Portland said its doors will be open Saturday from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. First Parish Church Reverend Norman Allen said his church sits in the middle of the city, and it made perfect sense to make space available for those who need it.
"We’re fully accessible. Elevators—it’s on the street level. There’s no obstructions to anyone coming, Allen said."
HHHLC said it will accept up to 10 extra people beginning Friday, but the additional spaces are overflow spots, and there will not be any added sleeping mats available.
Director of BAHS Boyd Kronholm said the shelter only admits unhoused people who are sober, usually reserving 30 to 38 beds for people who stay there regularly. However, the shelter will have 38 additional spaces available for all unhoused people on Saturday at 6 p.m., sober or not.
Kronholm said he can't open the day area at the shelter any sooner than 6 p.m.
"We’re a dry shelter, so the people staying here are substance-free," Kronholm said. "When we open up for the warming center, we’re no longer a dry center. So, we try not to mix those two populations."
Kronholm said they’ll increase staffing to accommodate the increased number of guests since some people experiencing homelessness are sometimes battling addiction and mental illness.
"The only two requirements to be here are that you’re not violent with people — and that you’re not using inside the building," Kronholm said. "So there’s quite a host of behaviors that happen. And so, it takes at least two staff to make sure that everyone’s safe while they’re here."
He said they will have plenty of easy-to-make food, snacks, and water. And with several food donations from Hope for Homeless, they have more than what they need to keep people fed. Kronholm said they won’t serve hot meals like they do in the winter.
"In the wintertime when we do hot food, we have volunteers that sign up to do the hot food. We just didn’t have time to pull that together this time," Kronholm said. "Our food program is 100% volunteer. People come in and cook for us and things. Anticipating that probably on Saturday night whoever signed up to do that probably won’t show up."
Kerry Kennet has been a resident at BAHS for the last six months. He said he had never been in this position — homeless for the first time in his 60s.
Kennett said BAHS does a lot to support the people it houses, and he is thankful for their help. Kennett said he feels secure and ready ahead of the storm.
"Conditions are clean. We have good clean new beds. Showers available," Kennett said. "We’re fed very well. Better than most."
Kronholm said communities are pulling together, hoping that anyone who wants shelter has it.
Here is a list of locations that are available for those experiencing homelessness in Maine:
First Parish Church from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, September 16
425 Congress St. Portland, ME 04101
Hope House Health and Living Center from Friday 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. beginning Friday, September 15 and ending Sunday, September 17
179 Corporate Dr. Bangor, ME 04401
Bangor Area Homeless Shelter from 6 p.m. Saturday, September 16 to 5:30 a.m. Sunday, September 17
263 Main St. Bangor, ME 04401
Mansion Church from 8 a.m. Saturday, September 16 to 8 p.m. the same day
96 Center St. Bangor, ME 04401
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