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Salvation Army responds to white flag conditions

By Jonathan Radford, jradford@wcyb.com
Published On: Jan 25 2014 06:19:48 PM CST
WHITE FLAG
KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

The Kingsport Salvation Army is busy in the cold weather.

"Well it's warm in here and we've got bedding or we could be outside were you may not come back up,” said Sherri Knight.

Sherri Knight tells us if it wasn't for the Salvation Army’s white flag, she'd be sleeping under a bridge. The Salvation Army flies the flag when the temperature drops below 40 degrees Farenheit.

"It's pretty hard to think, ‘Am I going to wake up the next morning or not?’, if I'm not frozen,” said Knight.

Knight is one of more than 20 people who stay at Salvation Army when the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Last night, in between the tables in the dining room, there was a mat between every table and then around the walls,” said Knight.

Whitney Tomberlain works at the Salvation Army and tell us she help set up the beds,

"We'll set up cots, blankets, pillows just to keep people out of the cold weather,” said Whitney Tomberlain.

Tomberlain tells us this year they even opened their doors during the day.

"We've actual extended our white flag [time period] to open up during the day those whenever it's under 20 degrees, when it's unbearably could people can just come in and sit on our dining room to keep warm,” said Tomberlain.

We learned 45 people are staying at the Salvation Amy long term. On a chilly night, more than 60 people can the pack the building for a place to lay their heads.

Tomberlain tells us the white flag isn't just for the homeless.

"If someone’s heat pump has went out, or even their hot water has went out and there's just no heat in their house, they need to stay warm somehow so that's what we are here for,” said Tomberlain.

No matter how crowded it gets Knight tells us it beats being outside.

"It’s warm here,” says Knight. “It's not warm out there, you're going to freeze. You can't make warmth.”

The Salvation Army tells us they have been under white flag conditions every day of January.