Last Saturday on Facebook, I crafted a “status” asking where the City of DeKalb warming centers are. There was nothing on the city’s website or Facebook page about them, and the last council agenda seemed to have dispensed with the idea entirely.
One of the current challenges faced with the moving of the Police Station is that the City Hall is no longer a 24/7 building. Because of that lack of 24/7 presence, the building can no longer be considered a 24 hour warming center. The building will continue to be a warming center during working hours. The City does not have another facility that is capable of performing this function on a 24 hour basis.
I didn’t watch the meeting, but I understand from someone who did that council did not end up designating the new police station — or any building — as the 24-hour warming center.
Anyway, about 3 p.m. yesterday the following was posted on DeKalb’s website and Facebook pages:
Due to the extreme cold weather and the National Weather Service wind chill warning, the City of DeKalb will be opening a warming center if the need is there. If you’re in need of shelter due to the weather, please contact Police Dispatch at 815.748.8400
If the need is there? How much more grudging can you get?
Look, DeKalb has four facilities that are open 24 hours. It should go without saying that our police station and our fire stations should be ready to serve as warming centers in case of extreme cold and that everyone should know this in advance.
It’s what a fully functional and compassionate city does.
There should also be emergency plans in place in case extreme temps are combined with circumstances that greatly increase demand, such as widespread power outages. Maybe the city could develop an agreement with the park district to open up its facilities for overnight use, for example.