Frigid NJ temperatures give early start to Code Blue alerts
New Jersey is returning to November-like temperatures ahead of the holiday weekend, but residents received a multi-day reminder of how cold the Garden State can get during the winter months.
And counties across the state got an early test of their systems in place that assist the most vulnerable residents when the weather is unbearable.
"It's law that we provide shelter when the temperature gets below 32 degrees," said Debbie-Ann Anderson, director of Union County's Department of Human Services.
Last winter alone, the county handled over 5,000 placements in warming centers, shelters, and hotels/motels. Code Blue was activated 91 times during the season.
"This Code Blue season, I believe, is going to have heavy volume," Anderson said. "Because of COVID, a lot of people are now more vulnerable."
Generally, areas in New Jersey that open to the public during Code Blue activation welcome guests from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. A church may become a warming center, for example, or a homeless shelter may temporarily increase its capacity.
According to NJ 211, Hudson County's warming center is open nightly through Mar. 31, regardless of weather conditions. The same goes for a spot in Ocean County.
The resources and sites available to the homeless and vulnerable may not be the same during all Code Blue notifications.
This page shows you where Code Blue is in effect in the state, and on which dates. It also lists sites that may open their doors during Code Blue activation.
Earlier this week, every county had sites activated due to frigid temperatures.
The New Jersey Department of Human Services in November 2020 provided counties with a total of $2.5 million to support their efforts to protect homeless individuals during freezing temperatures and dangerous weather.