Oelwein Offers Warming Shelter Sunday

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

Oelwein firefighters prepared Saturday, January 6th 2014 to host those who needed a place to come in from the cold starting on Sunday. Wind chills starting Sunday night into Monday morning could reach 50 degrees below zero. (Adam Sotelo/KCRG-The Gazette)

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By Forrest Saunders

OELWEIN, Iowa - City officials are preparing for Sunday night's blast of arctic air by setting up an emergency warming shelter.

The National Weather Service is predicting temps in town will drop to 25 below zero that night. Add wind chill and weather experts figure it will feel like 55 to 60 below.

Oelwein’s fire chief, Wallace Rundle, said in those kinds of temperatures, frostbite can happen in five minutes.

Rundle said from Sunday morning through Monday morning, the fire department will open up the station’s basement at 200 West Charles Street to anyone who needs a warm up.

"Make them comfortable. They can watch a little TV if they want to, and just the main thing is to stay warm," said Rundle.

Rundle said officials got the idea after a recent power outage hit much of the town. With frightening lows on the way, Rundle said he doesn't want to see anyone stuck in a cold situation Sunday night.

"They don't have to think, 'Gee where am I going to go,' if their furnace goes out, or they have some kind of problem in their home and they have to leave it," said Rundle.

Rundle doesn’t know how many people, if any, will show up. But he said it's better to have the shelter and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

"I think it's real important for the community to know that firefighters do other things than fight fires. We want to make sure they're safe," said Rundle.

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