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Butte homeless population vulnerable to deadly cold

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Posted at 4:51 PM, Dec 20, 2022

BUTTE — With deadly, subzero temperatures, an icy alleyway may be the only shelter some people can find. That’s a terrifying prospect for people with nowhere to go.

Are you worried? Are you scared about the weather?

“Yes, very terrified. Especially with my health issues I have. So, I’m scared if I have a seizure out here, nobody’s going to be able to help me, my wife has seizures too, so we’re between a rock and a hard spot,” said Lloyd Peterson, who says he’s been homeless in Butte for about 6 months.

The Butte Rescue Mission’s shelter on East Platinum Street will have its emergency shelter open throughout the cold weather, which is expected to drop to 37 below on Dec. 21.

“We’re dealing with one of the longest nights of the year and with that some cold hard times, especially for those who don’t have shelter that don’t have a place to go,” said Rescue Mission Director Braydon Erickson.

Llyod and his wife, with their two dogs, have been panhandling for money at the intersection of Montana and Platinum for the past few days.

“Sometimes we get a motel for a couple nights, other times we just sleep in the snow,” said Peterson.

The shelter has been filled to near capacity since the beginning of November. Shelter officials have plenty of blankets, jackets, and warm clothes to give away to anyone who needs them.

“Ultimately, keeping people alive, we’re saving lives here giving out the resources that we have here,” said Erickson.

Police will be looking out for anyone out in the cold.

“All those folks that are homeless and may not have a place to go, it’s critical that they get to a place and make sure they are safe, because you can be hypothermic and may not even realize it and then things go downhill very quickly,” said Butte Sheriff Ed Lester.

Lloyd hopes to find a place to go too.

“I’m trying to get my wife and myself out of the street as quickly as I possibly can,” said Peterson.