Area prepares for deep freeze

The sun was disappearing over the horizon off a frozen Mississppi Tuesday night ushering in record-breaking sub-zero temperatures and windchills. Several area churches are open for shelter if needed. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC


LEE COUNTY – With the weather people scaring us with -60 wind chills, area officials are looking for options for those who may be susceptible to the elements or looking for shelter.

According to the National Weather Service out of the Quad Cities, temperatures will be near record-breaking and the coldest feel outside since 1996.

The NWS issued the following recommendations in dealing with the subzero temps.

  • Minimize your time outdoors.
  • Postpone any outdoor activities & unnecessary travel until conditions improve.
  • If you must go outside, cover all exposed skin.
  • In addition to a winter coat, wear a hat, scarf, and mittens (or gloves)
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing

According to the NWS, the coldest temperatures will be at around 8 a.m. Wednesday when the actual temperature is predicted to be -18 with a windchill of -42 degrees. At that temperature, frostbite can occur to exposed skin in less than five minutes.

The NWS model doesn’t show temperatures getting above 0 until Thursday at about 11 a.m.

One location for area residents looking for shelter is the Fort Madison Hospitality House. Mary McDowell, the owner of the property, said she has room at the moment.

“We have room but it’s filling up fast. Most of the time people are afraid to come, I’m not sure why that is. It’s a 3-day stay, we do a background check, and they need a photo ID.”

McDowell said there is room available at that residence, which is also her home. Those looking for a place out of the elements can call her at 319-372-3983.

Lee County Emergency Management Services Coordinator, Steve Cirinna, said several warming centers will also be open tonight around Lee County.

In Fort Madison, Living Hope Church at the corner of 22nd Street and Avenue E has volunteered to open as a warming center. Those seeking assistance can contact Pastor Heather at 931-801-3659.

In Montrose, the Montrose Fire and Rescue will also open as a warming center if needed.  Contact local police or fire and they will know how to get the center open.

In Keokuk, the Evangelical Free Church on South 7th has volunteered to open up as a center through Thursday.  The church’s number is 319-524-1090.

Cirinna said if there is no answer at the churches, contact local police or fire and they will know how to get the churches opened.

Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber said motorists traveling should be wary that vehicles can freeze up traveling at 50 mph with windchills in the projected ranges.

He said when travel is required, motorists should be sure to have blankets, water, and protein bars and a fully charged cellphone.

“Keep your cellphone with you and charged and, if you break down, call us to help. We can come ’til your family arrives to get you home.”

He said motorists should keep travel to a minimum.

The cold temperatures canceled all school activities and even postponed city recycling collection on Wednesday.

Oh…and it’s supposed to be 53 degrees this weekend for the big game.

Go figure.

About Chuck Vandenberg 5270 Articles
Pen City Current and are products of Market Street Publishing, LLC, a multi-platform media company delivering hyper-local news, sports and advertising information to Fort Madison, IA and surrounding communities.

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