Workers brave freezing temps, homeless encouraged to take shelter


by Joe Arnold

Posted on January 3, 2014 at 7:10 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 3 at 7:20 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- It's cold enough to freeze the hydraulic lines used by Metropolitan Sewer District workers repairing a backup below Frankfort Avenue.  But not cold enough to stop the sewer workers from their jobs.

"It needs to be done as soon as possible," said Kenny Alford, a ten year MSD veteran, "even if it's cold, even if it's hot."

MSD crews worked in 20 degree temperatures on Friday, yet are bracing for sub-zero temperatures on Monday.  WHAS11 Meteorologist Monty Webb is forecasting the coldest temperatures Louisville has experienced in 18 years.

"An Arctic blast will crash into the region behind the front Sunday night bringing dangerous wind chill temperature through Tuesday night," Webb said, predicting Monday's high temperature at three degrees below zero and wind chills up to thirty degrees below zero.

Alford says he wears several layers of clothing to stay warm, but that comes at a price.

"It slows you down, weighs you down," Alford explained.  "And at the end of the day you're kind of tired because you've got probably twenty pounds of clothes on."

"Don't overdo it," cautioned MSD co-worker Donald Duerson, "because you start sweating, that's the worst thing in the world."

Duerson said the key is not to get wet -- a real challenge at the bottom of a wet, muddy hole.

"The dryer you stay, the warmer you stay. That's the number one thing."

Scaled back holiday work on the Ohio River Bridges Project trudged on Friday, with full operations scheduled to resume Monday - just as Louisville temperatures plunge.

The white flag is out at area homeless shelters - signaling extraordinary measures to make room for anyone.
"They open up their arms and welcome anybody," said Joel Canders, who has been staying at Wayside Christian Mission at Jefferson and Jackson for nine months.

"I actually thank God for a place like this," added Donnika Jefferson who said she has been in and out of Wayside for the last five years.

"Some people don't have no options, nowhere to go," Jefferson said.

Inside the shelter, a steady stream of patrons enjoyed hot meals.  A "mat layout" plan hangs on the dayroom wall with a grid to show where people will sleep overnight, making use of any available space, even on benches for the homeless to stay warm.

"We don't want anybody in our community freezing to death because they had nowhere to come in out of the cold," said Nina Moseley, Wayside Christian Mission COO.

Meanwhile, public works crews are on alert as the city tracks weekend snow. 

Because of forecast near and sub-zero temperatures, the city has plans to add liquid calcium chloride solution to road salt for any road treatments after the temperatures plunge.