Bay Area bracing for winter weather

by Anne Makovec

Temperatures are dropping as the Bay Area braces for its first bout of winter weather this season. We have already seen sleet mixed with rain in parts of the Bay Area and we can expect snow flurries at the higher elevations. Conditions Saturday were pretty calm. But, the best way to weather a storm is preparation. In Oakland, they are getting ready. A building in East Oakland normally serves as a senior center, but Saturday it is an emergency shelter and saving grace for people who need to get out of the cold. "Because of the economy and the severeness of the projected coldness, we wanted to set up two," said Stevan Alvarado with Oakland's Department of Human Services. With temperatures dropping about 10 degrees below normal this weekend centers are popping up all over the Bay Area, an answer to the governor's emergency call. "This is only the second time in the last two years this has actually happened," said Alvarado. The need is certainly there for thousands of people living on the streets, trying to gather supplies to brave the cold. "We're going to go to this place on Monday for blankets, free blankets," said Michael Ortiz who is homeless. Ortiz has a plan on how to deal with the weather, but others do not. The cold weather is actually a blessing for some people. One man selling scarves and hats on the Embarcadero told ABC7, "It makes a huge difference in business," as a woman planning on going ice skating purchased a hat. The expected rain is needed but not good for all vendors. The Evergreen Nursery in San Leandro is preparing for the cold weather. They have sprayed many of the plants with a sort of wax to help keep them warm. "You can also group your plants together and that helps because they can help insulate each other," said Paul Loberg with the nursery. The emergency shelter in Oakland will be accepting people all night, hoping to insulate them from the chill. There's room for 50 but they are ready for overflow. "Normally we would send them to our winter shelter. But that which houses 100 individuals a night, we actually opened it November 19th, has been full every night," said Alvarado. The shelter will be open throughout the weekend.

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