The recent polar vortex hit the U.S. hard. The bone-chilling low temperatures of last week left homeless people, in particular, at risk of freezing in the extreme weather.
In Chicago, a group of good samaritans took action to help a homeless encampment in a wooded area by an expressway. After a fire at the camp, police confiscated propane tanks, which people there planned to use for heating, due to concerns over potential propane explosions.
The Salvation Army planned to move those in the camp to a warming center. But before that happened, a group of volunteers led by Chicagoan Candice Payne stepped in to help.
They put people up in motel rooms at the Amber Inn in Bronzeville — the only place that agreed to the arrangement. The volunteers used their own funds to pay for the rooms, and they also turned to social media for assistance.
In the end, Payne, her husband, their friends and people who responded to her Instagram posts secured a block of about 60 hotel rooms. They shuttled homeless residents there and helped feed and supply the group through the cold snap.
“This is just regular people trying to help,” Payne told the Chicago Tribune. “We wanted to get as much of them out of there as possible.”
In the double-digit-below-freezing weather produced by the polar vortex, the recommendation is to stay inside a heated shelter. If you do go outside, the recommendation is to wear multiple layers, waterproof clothing, hats, mittens and gloves, and even cover your mouth and eyes if possible.
The homeless campers in Chicago could have experienced frostbite, hypothermia and worse if they’d remained in their unheated tents during the deep freeze.
Payne, a real estate developer, says she wants to buy a multi-unit building to help house people experiencing homelessness permanently, not just during extreme cold.
In an Instagram caption about her future goals to help the homeless, she reminded her followers, “A lot of us is ONE paycheck away from a bad situation so don’t look down on someone who is willing to work hard!”