Emergency overnight shelter set up for people at Halifax encampments ahead of storm

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Ground search and rescue will be visiting known encampments, like this one at Halifax's Meagher Park, Monday night to offer rides to overnight emergency shelters. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Ground search and rescue will be visiting known encampments, like this one at Halifax's Meagher Park, Monday night to offer rides to overnight emergency shelters. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

Emergency overnight shelters were being offered to people experiencing homelessness Monday in Halifax as a wild fall storm threatened to batter Nova Scotia with heavy rain and strong winds.

The municipality said it was working with the province to help those living in homeless encampments.

"Ground search and rescue teams will be engaged tonight to visit all the locations," Erica Fleck, Halifax's housing and homeless administrator, said in a briefing.

"They will be driving through the HRM this evening, tracking where occupants are, and they will be offering them transport to the emergency shelter should people wish to move."

The encampment at Meagher Park on Chebucto Road was among the sites the teams planned to visit.

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

John Griffin, who has been living in a tent at the park since since Aug. 18, said he planned to ride out the storm in his tent.

"I'm more buckled down than everybody here, I'm on pallets. I'm going to ride this one out," Griffin said in an interview at the park Monday.

Griffin estimated 15 people now live at the park. He said preparations were underway to make the tents more secure.

"Everyone else is getting staked down with tarps, everything is getting weighed down ... this storm people talk about, we're ready for it," he said.

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

A warming centre set up at St. Matthew's United Church on Barrington Street was expected to remain open until 9 p.m. local time. The centre was offering wireless internet, granola bars, tea and coffee for up to 30 people at a time.

"I think it makes a huge difference for somebody to be able to come inside and be warm even just for an hour and collect themselves or have a bathroom they can use with no judgment," Megan Malette, who helps run the St. Matthew's warming centre, told CBC News.

Malette said a bus would be by after the warming centre closes to pick up people who want to stay overnight at the George Dixon Community Centre.

Back at Meagher Park, Griffin said he planned to tell others staying in the park about the warming centre. He said people who live in the neighbourhood around the park have been understanding and helpful.

"We're grateful for that. Water, pop, juice, Gatorade, whatever — we've been getting those, we always welcome it," he said.

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