Starr County monitors local shelter’s capacity as temperatures drop

Local News

Harlingen, Texas (KVEO) —As cold temperatures arrive, Starr County officials are preparing shelters whilst keeping fire safety in mind.

Although Starr County does not provide any county-run shelters, there will be some available in the area.

“Here in the county, we’re very fortunate that we have several churches in the community, that they open up their doors for people that need shelters,” said Starr County Judge Eloy Vera.

If the church shelters reach capacity, the county will begin efforts to open emergency shelters at local schools, according to Judge Vera.

Rio Grande City Commissioner Alberto Escobedo said he wants to bring a shelter to the county.

“It’s necessary for this community. There [are] people that don’t have homes or their homes are not prepared for temperatures of 30 degrees,” he said.

Escobedo founded Casa Esperanza, which used to offer shelter but because of the pandemic, they now only provide food.

Starr County officials said they have not had to open a shelter in nearly five years, because people would not show up. Escobedo said some in the community are prideful.

“They don’t want to intrude or bother people, so they usually struggle,” he explained. “We’ve had people that sleep next to a trash can and they bundle up and they try to keep warm.”  

Judge Vera urges families that are staying at home to be safe.

“We cannot overemphasize to the people to, please be extremely careful with their heaters,” he urged. This is the worse time for fires in homes, so stay warm but at the same time be extremely careful.” 

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