Bay Area freeze extends longer than expected

The cold snap has lasted longer than expected for many Bay Area residents who are seeing their 5th night of very cold temperatures.
December 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Some Bay Area cities will hit freezing temperatures once again Tuesday night. A Freeze Warning has been issued for the North Bay, East Bay and Santa Clara Valleys from from 10 p.m. Tuesday through 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The National Guard Armory in Sunnyvale is a shelter that has been open in the day time too which is when it's typically closed. However, this is hopefully the last night of constant freezing temperatures because it is making just about every homeless person scramble for a warm place to sleep.

Suzanne Napolitano and her kids are glad to be someplace warm tonight. Being homeless is never easy, but in freezing temperatures she said, "It's been horrible! I didn't think the weather could get this cold in California."

Now that the freeze warning has extended longer than expected, the city of San Jose is paying to run the shelter at the Boccardo Rec Center at above capacity and for longer hours. No one will be turned away overnight.

"It's bone chilling cold," said Sean Thomas who is homeless.

There have been seven weather-related deaths since the cold snap started and those at Dunrite Heating and Air are working non-stop to keep people out of the cold.

"Since the cold snap it's been just crazy," said Mike Wood, the owner of Dunrite Heating and Air. He says most of the time, they're easy fixes. "The bulk of repairs are due to lack of maintenance. If you don't change the oil in your car, your car will quit."

Thinking ahead is key. That's why Caltrans is getting ready for another morning of sanding.

"We have some stretches over there that since they have some water going underneath it, some condensation forms and therefore creating the black ice," said Ernesto Ramirez, a Caltrans superintendent.

The complications the cold brings are causing the same sentiment to spread.

"Warmer weather does sound nice right now," said Valerie Tam, a Los Altos resident.

For now, wishful thinking will have to do.

With frost on the ground and temperatures below freezing again, some Bay Area residents say they've had enough of this weather.

"I'm ready for it to go away. I walk every day and like I say I was out here and it's just really cold," Livermore resident David Jewell said.

The persistent freezing temperatures continue to affect the homeless in San Rafael. The Marin County Department of Health is still working with non-profits to help them get to a warm place.

Peter Gusmano is 63 years old and despite these freezing temperatures he continues to sleep on the streets of San Rafael.

"Wake up in the morning, you could ski down the hill. One morning I turned out blue. I looked down and I was in bad shape," Gusmano said.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin County is trying to convince him and others to take shelter at one of their member churches. There is enough space for 40 men and 20 women. One of their partner organizations is allowing homeless people to take shelter even if they are not sober.

"We're just asking our emergency personnel to be on the alert for people that may be outside and making sure they know the options for people to get indoors," St. Vincent de Paul Society spokesperson Christine Paquette said.

It has been one of the longest running cold snaps in recent memory. Even the people who work for St. Vincent de Paul Society are feeling the bitter cold.

"Our building is in a very old building, so we make due with some space heaters and coats and sweaters," Paquette said.

The mother of one homeless man who died during the Bay Area's cold snap spoke out Tuesday about the help she thinks he should've gotten. Joe White, 50, is one of seven homeless men who have died this past week from possible hypothermia.

After waiting for months, White was second from the top on a list for permanent housing in Hayward. But with nowhere for men like him to go in the short term, the cold weather moved in and his time ran out.

White's mother, Mary Archuleta, believes more could've been done to save her son.

"It's uncalled for, the state, the government, they've got money to help these people," Archuleta said.

Archuleta says she tried to get her son to come stay with her, but he didn't want to be a burden.

White was found Sunday in the courtyard of Hayward's old City Hall. He was wearing shorts and a hooded sweatshirt.

Those who've been on Hayward's streets say there's nowhere for single homeless men like White to go on an emergency basis.

"It's really bad. And we need in Hayward, California, we need a community center where we can feed, clothe, shower and go ahead and help people," homeless advocate Joey Geitner said.

So people like White end up sleeping in the cold even when it gets below freezing.

"He's a human being. He's a human being who was waiting to get help. He was trying to survive just like all these other people are trying to survive," Archuleta said.

Archuleta couldn't keep her son off the streets and now she's struggling to pay for his funeral.

To help Archuleta pay for her son's funeral please contact Sara Lamnin with the Hayward Community Action Network by emailing her at southhaywardparish@gmail.com.


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