Extreme weather shelter to open Tuesday in Nevada City | TheUnion.com

Extreme weather shelter to open Tuesday in Nevada City

Just in time for the first flakes of snow, an extreme weather shelter opens today, and is set to run at least through Friday night, county officials said.

The shelter, a collaboration between Sierra Roots, Nevada City and Nevada County, will open at 4:30 p.m. at the Nevada City Veteran’s Hall, 415 North Pine St.

“There’s a lot to get in place before we get storms,” said Sierra Roots’ new volunteer coordinator, Alice Johnson, who already has three training sessions for volunteers under her belt. “I feel very ready for this. I’m excited.”

Sierra Roots founder Janice O’Brien noted she has been involved in running a cold weather shelter since 2013 and appreciates being able to let go of some of the responsibilities.

“It’s nice to have someone else to do this with now,” she said. Johnson, she added, “is very organized, very conscientious. Plus, she has volunteered at shelters over the years so she knows how it goes.”

Johnson said she was looking to volunteer somewhere after she retired from a position as 211 center call manager, and attended O’Brien’s homeless advocacy training.

“It was very rewarding,” she said. “I really appreciated her philosophy, of being in solidarity with the homeless” population.


As part of her new position, Johnson said, she is looking to recruit more volunteers, noting that she needs 18 people each night the shelter opens,

Volunteers are split into four separate shifts for each night. From 4-9 p.m., volunteers will perform intake, checking in guests and letting them know the rules, setting them up with cots and sleeping bags, and helping out in the kitchen. From 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., at least two volunteers are needed to act as monitors and respond to any concerns or issues that come up. Another two volunteers are needed from 2-6:30 a.m. to monitor, get people up and packed, and possibly help with breakfast. Kitchen help volunteers then work a fourth shift, from 6-8:30 a.m.

“I do want to put in a plug, if people are interested (in volunteering), to give me a call,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s phone number is 530-263-2764. A training session is required for volunteers.

“We’re starting at four nights but that might be extended,” she said. “The cold weather is really intensifying after the snow passes.”

The extreme weather shelter can hold a maximum of 30 guests a night, Johnson said, adding, “We don’t want to turn away any people.”

The shelter will cut off check-in by 8 p.m., Johnson said, and will offer dinner and breakfast the next morning, as well as case management services from the Homeless Outreach and Medical Engagement Team. The Nevada County Veteran Services Office will also be available for connecting homeless veterans to available services. And Hospitality House will assist in providing van transportation to and from the shelter.

“It will be interesting to see how many people engage with the different services,” Johnson said.


The extreme weather shelter this year is operating under a Memorandum of Understanding that clearly spells out the conditions under which it will be open. County staff made the call early Monday afternoon, noting the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the foothills and was predicting low snow and cold temperatures in the foothills today through Thursday afternoon.

According to the weather service, rain and snow will develop this afternoon, with heavier precipitation Tuesday night. Rain and snow is expected to continue Wednesday into Thursday with a chance of thunderstorms both afternoons. Total snow accumulations of 8 to 18 inches are expected above 1,500 feet, with 2 to 3 feet above 3,000 feet. The weather becomes more showery on Thanksgiving Day with light snowfall continuing through Friday morning, with below average temperatures and low snow levels.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lizk@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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