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"Code Blue" weather plan initiated for homeless

Posted at 6:09 PM, Nov 12, 2019

(WKBW) — Buffalo's been hit with record snowfalls and freezing temperatures this week. Conditions that are the most dangerous for the area's homeless population.

That's where "Code Blue" comes in. "Code Blue" is Buffalo and Erie County's emergency weather plan to provide shelter and safe conditions for the homeless population in dangerous winter conditions. This is the 10th year, however, the start to this season is different.

"For the past several years I've been able to stand here and proudly announce we've had no weather fatalities, however last year we did lose a member of our community," said Jean Bennett who leads "Code Blue."

The group's shirts read "One life lost is one too many." 69-year-old Lawrence "Larry" Bierl passed away from hypothermia last January near a bus shelter on Main and Union roads in Williamsville.

"Code Blue" organizers said the big message to take away from the tragedy is if you see someone in need of help say something to those who can help.

"In the outlying areas it becomes a little bit more difficult so we really rely on the community to help us in that," Bennett said. "So call 211, and we can get them the assistance they need."

This is the list of "Code Blue" shelters in Erie County. All of them are open on nights with a temperature or wind chill below 32 degrees, except St. Luke's which is open for temperatures or wind chills below 15 degrees.

  • Harbor House- 241 Genesee St.
  • Holy Cross- 412 Niagara St.
  • Rural Outreach Center 765 Olean Rd., East Aurora
  • St. Luke's Mission of Mercy- 325 Walden Av.

Daytime warming centers can be found at Harbor House and the Rural Outreach Center.