Shelters in place for Dover’s homeless for weekend weather emergency

DOVER — Kay Sass and Rebecca Manahan Martin got together on Tuesday to discuss contingency plans to help find shelter for Dover’s homeless population in advance of Hurricane Florence making landfall in the Carolinas.

Ms. Sass, public affairs and emergency management coordinator for the city of Dover, and Ms. Martin, director of Code Purple Kent County, identified a couple of sanctuaries where those less fortunate could stay in the event of a tropical event in Dover.

The Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing, at 684 Forest St., would be open for men while Maranatha Church, at 1235 E. Division St., would open its doors for women and children in the event of a tropical storm.

However, with Hurricane Florence now expected to shift its track to the south, Ms. Martin doesn’t expect the shelters will be needed this weekend, but they will be available to open in case the hurricane’s path changes again.

“It looks like we’re really not going to get much of anything at all,” Ms. Martin said. “But we have everything in place just in case. If something does change with the forecast, then the sanctuaries we have in place should work.”

Ms. Sass said both she and Code Purple had been in touch with Kent County officials to get a grip on the possible weather emergency.

“It appears as if the storm has shifted, so we’re not going to end up with the brunt of it like was initially predicted with the hurricane’s potential,” said Ms. Sass. “We’ll still likely see some flash flooding because of all the rain we’ve had in recent days.”

Satellite image of Hurricane Florence.

Ms. Sass said the city authorized Ms. Martin to use the Code Purple locations as sanctuaries if needed during the storm.

Ms. Sass said she also spoke with Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing, which authorized additional space for 15 people, and she also received some cots from Kent County just in case.

Sue Harris, a co-founder of Port Hope Delaware, a service group to provide housing and promote independence, spoke before Monday night’s Dover City Council meeting and said emergency plans need to be put in place for the city’s estimated population of 300 to 400 homeless people.

“I think we need to be reasonable fellow human beings and recognize this need that exists,” Ms. Harris said. “This is nothing new, but as this hurricane comes upon us, or storm, and probably more behind it, we need to have a plan.

“It’s kind of amazing that we continue to have this conversation and everything seems to come up like it’s a new emergency. We’re in a hurricane area. We should have something set in place.”

Ms. Harris pleaded for city council members to use some of their discretionary funds to help with an emergency fund for the area’s homeless population.

“We have to find somewhere to send them,” she said. “We’re all being told to stay inside, seek shelter as they say, but please tell us where we can tell them to find that safe refuge from the storm.”


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