Friday, January 4, 2002
'Fun Coast' shivers under continuing frosty conditions
By PATRICIO G. BALONA | News-Journal Staff Writer
DAYTONA BEACH — William Kutschbach's fingers were numb as a cold wind swept a blanket from his shoulders as he stood waiting to sign up for a shelter bed Thursday night.
Kutschbach, 47, a Vietnam veteran, rubbed his fingers against his thigh to get the circulation going again as he stood outside the Halifax Urban Ministries office on Bay Street.
"All I need is a hot meal and a warm place to sleep," the homeless man said. "I am not hard to please."
With overnight temperatures expected to fall to between 30 and 32 degrees, Kutschbach was one of dozens of the homeless ready to escape the brutal weather.
The cold is expected to continue tonight with temperatures reaching the lower 30s, said Jackie Cartwright with the National Weather Service in Melbourne. The record low of 27 degrees for Jan. 4 occurred in 1940, she said. Thursday's high of 51 degrees came at 12:04 a.m. and the temperature fell as the day progressed, Cartwright said.
Halifax Urban Ministries arranged transportation for Kutschbach and 43 other homeless persons to Epiphany Catholic Church and First United Methodist Church in Port Orange.
The churches opened their doors to keep the homeless warm as the coldest weather this winter hit Florida, said Harry Cook, a Halifax Urban Ministries volunteer. "It's cold out there, they have to go somewhere to keep warm," Cook said.
At Epiphany on Fleming Avenue, hot chili, meatloaf and mashed potatoes greeted 23 people, while 21 homeless residents dined on spaghetti and salad at the First United Methodist Church on Dunlawton Avenue.
No one gets turned away even if there are not enough mats, said Nancy Carr, director of the Loaves and Fishes program at First United Methodist Church.
"If not for them I would not know what to do," said Louis Smith, 75, digging into a bowl of hot chili at Epiphany.
Workers at the Neighborhood Center in West Volusia ran out of beds by midafternoon Thursday, but no one was turned away.Arrangements were made to provide shelter to anyone who might need it during the night.
Help also was available in Southeast Volusia.
"We are trying to take care of all cold needs of those who need it, but so far we haven't had anymore than usual come in for help," said Frank Erwin, director of Southeast Volusia Halifax Urban Ministries.
The homeless were not the only ones preparing for the freezing temperatures Thursday.
Oak Hill grove owner Ken Scragg spent the day working to protect his 14 acres of citrus trees. "We are getting all the pumps up and in gear so we can water the trees and try to coat the fruit with ice," said Scragg.
The men erected small sprinklers at the base of each of Scragg's 1,300 trees in hopes the water will prevent any permanent damage."Everyone is going to suffer tonight, the fruit especially," he said. "If the temperature gets down and stays there for four or five hours, we could lose the trees."
West Volusia workers also were busy protecting citrus and ferns. Steve Crump worked into the night at his family's 65-acre citrus grove in DeLeon Springs. "Right now I'm just watching the temperature," he said. "When it gets to 34 degrees I'm going to turn on our sprinklers and begin icing the trees."
The ice insulates the plants from the cold, Crump said.
At Daytona Beach International Airport on Thursday, Delta Air Lines canceled three morning flights to Atlanta because of snowy weather there, a spokesman said. All other flights departed as scheduled, a Delta spokeswoman said.
Staff Writers Sandra Frederick, Autumn C. Giusti, Jim Haug and Mark I. Johnson contributed to this report.