City grapples with ongoing cold snap

City grapples with ongoing cold snap
Charles Mostoller

A brutal cold snap has Philadelphia in its icy fist, and won’t be letting the city go anytime soon.

“I hate it, I hate the cold,” said Regina Palkon, while waiting for a bus home from Center City. Palkon also keeps her home heated all day to keep her dog warm, she said.

“It’s cold as s—!” said Kenny Dubose, who was heading home from Center City.

Temperatures were forecast to hit the single digits, from 4 to 10 degrees, on Friday morning, when including wind chill, said Jim Bunker, an observing program leader at the National Weather Service’s Mt. Holly station.

A dusting of snow was also forecast for Friday – “worst-case scenario, less than an inch,” Bunker said.

While Bunker said temperatures will rise to the 30s on Friday, they’ll be back to the teens and 20s Saturday. Sunday is expected to see a rise back to the 30s, which is expected to continue until Monday, when temps will again go below freezing, Bunker said.

With temperatures below 20 degrees, or when temperatures are below 32 degrees during precipitation, a code blue is declared throughout the city – which means outreach coverage for the homeless takes place 24 hours a day and vacant beds within emergency housing are opened up to the homeless.

“I’ve been out on the streets since 10 o’clock this morning. All the calls are coming in, people are calling. … All the teams check on all the people they see,” said Sam Santiago, an outreach worker with Project HOME.

“Most folks agree to do intake or go to a shelter … [or] once the sun goes down, they really start to feel the chill and then they’ll go in,” he said.

Several shelters still have beds, Santiago said.

The Streets Department, which has so far issued 111 citations for property owners who have not shoveled their sidewalks, urged locals to report icy road conditions.

“We advise the public to use extra caution while driving this weekend and be aware of changing road conditions,” said spokeswoman June Cantor in a statement. “Should icy road conditions be encountered, the public should submit service request through 311 for salting.”

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Water Department is urging homeowners to monitor their pipes for signs of freezing and if possible to keep pipes wrapped and insulated and in an area heated at a temperature of 40 degrees.

In extremely cold conditions, the Department recommends leaving the faucet on at a trickle as moving water helps prevent freezing.

To report a homeless person who needs assistance to Project HOME, call their hotline at 215-232-1984.