Homeless Couple Who Slept In -40 Wind Chill Shares Experience

By Mark Carlson, Iowa City Bureau Chief

Bonnie Brookhart and Michael Daniels are checked in to the Super 7 motel in Coralville where the spent Monday night. Sunday the couple spent the night under a bridge bearing wind chills of under negative 40 degrees. (MARK CARLSON/THE GAZETTE-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A homeless couple who spent the night Sunday under an Iowa City bridge said the experience was “difficult.” Michael Daniels and his wife Bonnie Brookhart said they had to deal with persistent winds, which continually sent their blankets flying.

“Every-half hour the wind was blowing our blankets off,” Daniels said. “We didn’t get much sleep and it was cold.”

The couple opted to stay outside because they felt the local shelter, Shelter House, was “too full.” Crissy Canganelli, executive director of Shelter House, said the shelter provided warmth to nearly 80 people Sunday, pushing them over capacity.

“We are not turning anyone away,” Canganelli said in an email referencing the dangerous conditions.

Monday night Daniels and Brookhart were granted relief when police worked with a local church to help them find another form of shelter, a local motel.

“The church is going to pay for it,” Lt. Mike Brotherton of the Iowa City police department said. “Good News Bible Church, coming through.”

Daniels, 52, estimated between 25 to 30 people in the Iowa City area slept outside in the dangerous cold Sunday, which dipped to a wind chill of under negative 40 degrees early Monday morning.

“There’s people up in age, around my age or a little older, they just don’t care anymore,” he said. “I’m not a spring chicken, I can’t keep doing this.”

Daniels said he’s working to better his life by searching for permanent employment, while Brookhart said a seizure disorder prevents her from working. They’ve been homeless for about six months.

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