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Hypothermia Alert Means Added Shelter Beds

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By Mana Rabiee

A hypothermia alert in D.C. Saturday morning meant the city was required by law to offer shelter to anyone who sought refuge from the streets.

When the alert was announced the staff at the Federal City Shelter in Northwest D.C., one of the largest in the country, fell into auto pilot. "Once it was called, all we had to do is go downstairs, open up and set the cones up, tell them to come in as they passed by and get the word out," says William Rapley, the shelter's Deputy Director.

Rapley says the shelter reserves a basement holding center for the "hypothermia overflow," the people who don't seek a shelter bed unless the weather is really severe.

Several homeless services in the city reported an increase in the number of people seeking shelter from Saturday's winter weather. The city's main emergency shelter hot line also fielded calls from families with children.

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