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Warming shelter prepares for winter storm during pandemic

Shelter managers are doing all they can to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19 among people who are looking for a place to stay during the snowstorm.

MONROE COUNTY, Pa. — The year 2020 is about to throw another curveball.

A massive snowstorm that could dump up to two feet of snow throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church's cold weather shelter opened early due to the anticipated winter storm.

"There's such a need, and there's such a need in this area. They are God's beloved people, and they have a safe place to lay their heads here," said Teresa Mankin, Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church.

The church on North 5th Street near Stroudsburg is currently the only overnight cold weather shelter in Monroe County.  The shelter is open to walk-ins, and about 30 people can fit inside.

Because of the pandemic, extra safety measures are being taken.

"When they come, temperatures will be checked. They will be asked questions about symptoms and anything like that. If they present with any symptoms of a fever, they will be asked to go to the hospital. There's lots of social distancing, and everyone is required to wear a mask the entire time except when they are sleeping. So all of those CDC guidelines will be followed," said Pastor Lynda Keefer, Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church.

At the Salvation Army in East Stroudsburg, the shelter program is done through an application process, but the organization does hand out extra food to people who might be in need, especially before a big snowstorm.

"We still have folks living in tents, which is a challenge this time of year because we may be closed tomorrow because of the storm, and we make sure we prepare. When they come in for food, we will give them extra food. So instead of getting food for one or two meals, we will give them food for five or six meals," said Maj. Gilbert Parkhurst, East Stroudsburg Salvation Army.

Anyone in need of shelter or food can call 211 for information on available resources.  It's a statewide hotline for people seeking assistance.